Another great night of football on Friday between these two arch rivals. The final was 15-13 in favor of Prep in what was a pretty average game until the second half of the last quarter. The only problem was that you had to sit through a 40-degree night and an hour-and-a-half of drizzle to get there...
Here's what went down: Prep is leading 15-0 with about nine minutes left in the game. The Ramblers had scored three times: 1) on a solid drive late in the first quarter, 2) on a safety on a muffed punt by McDowell, and 3) on a short TD drive set up by a bad snap on a punt. They weren't blowing McDowell away, but the Trojans were having trouble moving the ball. And, when McDowell did move it, something stupid happened, like a holding penalty that ruined a long TD pass and a pair of interceptions.
But, finally, McDowell's running game clicked. They drove down the field on some nice long gains to score with just over five minutes to play. Oh yes, to go back to Prep's second TD: After the score, the Ramblers executed this wonderful fake-kick on the extra point, and it looked like the kicker had just lofted a beautiful conversion pass to the tight-end. But, alas, the ref said the Prep holder had his knee on the ground when he caught the snap before pitching it to the kicker. The holder argued vehemently, and I would guess not having your knee on the ground would be a key element of the play that you would practice and be very careful about executing, but to no avail. This miscue - or perhaps, bad call - kept the Trojans in the game, if only barely, as two TDs with successful conversions could still tie, or even win the game.
Here's where it gets tricky. After McDowell scores its first TD, Coach Joe Tarasovitch is faced with the decision to go for one or two. Sitting in the stands, having just watched the McDowell running attack shred the Prep D, the obvious choice for me is to go for two. Of course, a couple years ago in a D-10 Championship game, Tarasovitch notoriously went for two with his team down by one, and ended up losing by that very one point. So, this year, he decides to kick, and of course the kick gets blocked - now it's 15-6 Prep. This is probably not a big deal, especially after Prep cleanly fields the ensuing onside kick...
On top of that, the Ramblers start to drive downfield, with their star back Akeem Satterfield ripping off a 30-yard run to about the 12 yard-line. It was a great run. He took on about seven McDowell defenders, spinning and driving his way forward, while staying in bounds, before finally being pushed out, apparently, wa-a-a-y out, because he was a bit steamed following the play. I think the Prep coaches abided his wishes and gave him the ball three straight times after that, but after getting five yards on first down, he got stuffed the next two times. This set up a fourth-and-two inside the McDowell 10, with just over two minutes to play.
Prep has a number of options here and going for it on fourth down is probably the best one. And apparently, Coach Donnie Hall makes an ingenius, with a play action fake to Satterfield, and quarterback Branden Seyler lofting a pass over the head of McDowell linebacker Zach Stano for an easy six. But wait! Stano leaps high in the air, tips the ball to himself and gains possession. A couple zigs, zags, stops, starts, jukes and maybe broken tackle later, he's at the 20 and racing down the sideline in front of the Prep bench, with a clear path to the end zone.
Here comes Satterfield. The angry one is flying up the field after Stano gaining yards with each stride. He looks like he's about to catch Stano and stop him at midfield, when out of the nowhere Brad Gore (at least that was his name accoridng to the paper; I didn't catch the number of that truck that hit Satterfield), who must have been smartly trailing the play, shows up and blasts Satterfield, knocking him about five yards into the Prep bench. This time McDowell makes the extra point and it's 15-13 Ramblers.
Unfortunately for McDowell, Prep again does a great job covering the onside kick, and by the time the Trojans get the ball back on a punt (Prep's punt teams, both kicking and reciving, were outstanding all night and may have made the difference in the game), there's too little time, and they can't do anything with it.
Another Prep-McDowell classic and definitley worth spending two-and-a-half hours in the cold rain, if you appreciate that kind of thing.