|Twisters done in by own hands |
|Posted: Tuesday, October 11, 2011 6:01 am |
| By MIKE HUTCHENS |
Messenger Sports Editor
In another Union City-Lake County shootout, self-inflicted damage killed the Golden Tornadoes.
Four of five UC turnovers led directly to Falcon points, and LC also scored on a pair of special team gaffes to outgun the Twisters 52-46 Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.
The disappointing loss was Union City’s first in four District 14A games and dropped the Purple and Gold behind Humboldt (6-1, 3-0) in the race for the league’s top spot. UC (3-5 overall), Lake County (5-2, 2-1) and Trenton (2-5, 2-1) all have one district loss, with South Fulton (4-4, 2-2) close behind with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Friday’s offensive onslaught between the Tornadoes and LC continued a recent trend that has seen fireworks in three of their last four meetings, producing a combined 96 points in 2008, 100 last season and 98 in the latest matchup.
And Union City held decided advantages in practically every statistical category — except the one that mattered most.
Lake County scored 28 unanswered points from late in the first half until the early stages of the fourth quarter to erase a 34-18 Twister lead, converting two fumbles into TDs and a snap that sailed over the punter’s head into another score. The Falcons then sealed their critical come-from-behind triumph with an interception return to paydirt with under two mintues to play.
“Ninety percent of the time, we played good football,” a dejected UC head coach Darren Bowling said following the game. “It’s just the mistakes we made during that other 10 percent of the time that killed us.
“That’s the mark of a young football team.”
Union City, which outgained the Falcons 475-312 but now is minus-14 for the season in the all-important turnover margin stat, simply had no one who could stop Falcon Flash Rafael Tyler.
Tyler, an all-state receiver as a junior, torched the Tornadoes with six catches for 259 yards despite often-times being double-and triple-teamed. Among those grabs were TD receptions covering 49, 58 and 26 yards. He also had a catch-and-run that covered 97 yards to set up another score, and even threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Boyd to get LC on the scoreboard in the opening minute.
“One guy beat us. You hate to say that as a coach and it’s tough to swallow, but that’s what happened,” Bowling said of Tyler.
“Lake County didn’t beat us. Number 11 did. That, and the turnovers.”
Union City was not without its own highlight performers as Keylon Hyde ran for a season-high 203 yards and three touchdowns and Travis Rutland threw scoring passes covering 80 yards (on the game’s first snap) to Tymaine Strickland and 61 yards to Khiry Lewis. Rutland also ran for a touchdown and 68 yards in all.
And despite indications otherwise, the much-maligned Tornado defense was decent for the most part — other than containing Tyler — with three forced turnovers and just 19 rushing yards allowed to the visitors.
UC ran off a string of 27 unanswered points itself after falling behind 12-7 in the first five minutes and was seemingly in command after the second of two Hyde touchdowns — a 47-yard rumble. A 51-yard scoring sprint by Lewis and a six-yard TD scamper by Rutland, the latter that was set up by a Ricky Henry fumble recovery, seemingly had the locals firmly in control with a 34-18 advantage with just under three minutes left before intermission.
A Rutland lost fumble deep inside Twister territory in the final 14 seconds, though, led to the Nick Price’s one-yard QB sneak on the final play of the first half that got the Falcons within 34-24.
Once more — on its opening possession of the third period — Union City appeared poised to take complete command. A 44-yard burst by Hyde and subsequent offsides penalty gave the Tornadoes a first-and-goal from the Lake County three-yard line. Hyde was stopped on third down at the one, however, and Rutland was bottled up short of the goal line on fourth down, denying UC the opportunity to expand its lead.
Two plays later, Price and Tyler hooked up on their aforementioned 97-yard play on which the receiver simply took the ball away from a defender with Lewis only temporarily stopping the TD before Ricky Boyd scored from the two on the next play.
Immediately following the ensuing kickoff and with UC clinging to a 34-32 advantage, Rutland was sacked and fumbled. Price and Tyler played pitch-and-catch on the very next play, their 26-yard scoring connection giving the Falcons the lead for good.
Hyde, who left the game briefly in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, also had a good night defensively with a team-high six tackles. Joseph Shanks was in on five, while Walker Barnes and Michael Dysart were both credited with sacks. Devin Burnside had a fumble recovery and Lewis an interception.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in The Messenger 10.10.11