UC misses playing out scenario by a yard

UC misses playing out scenario by a yard
UC misses playing out scenario by a yard | UC misses playing out scenario by a yard
Messenger Sports Editor
Practice does not always make perfect.
Faced with a situation that had been scripted multiple times throughout its preparations for West Carroll, Union City was stuffed on a potential game-winning two-point conversion with 15 seconds remaining in the game and suffered a heartbreaking 21-20 loss in the Class 1A state quarterfinals Friday.
The Tornadoes saw their season and unlikely playoff run end in Round 3 with a 6-7 record, while WC (8-4) advances to the semifinals for the first time in school history and will play at second-ranked Wayne County (12-0) this week with a berth in the BlueCross Bowl at stake.
Wayne County scored two late touchdowns to knock off No. 1-ranked Huntingdon 26-13 in a battle of unbeatens in one of three other quarterfinal matchups Friday.
Union City seemed poised to continue its stunning postseason march vs. West Carroll after Keylon Hyde scored the last of his three touchdowns in the waning seconds on a two-yard run to draw the Twisters within a single point.
UC originally lined up with Hyde — who’d made his two previous PAT kicks — set to attempt the game-tying boot that would’ve sent the game into overtime tied at 21.
But the War Eagles jumped offside before that try, just as Tornado head coach Darren Bowling had predicted during the week leading up to the game, and the coach then brought out his offense to go for the win — just as he instructed he would — with just a yard-and-a-half needed for a berth in the Final 4.
But Hyde, the bruising Twister fullback who was the obvious choice for the carry after having gained 150 yards with nary a play for less than a yard gained, was stonewalled by two War Eagle defenders as he tried to dive into the endzone on the right side.
“Everything worked just like we said it would in practice, except for us getting in,” an understandably dejected Bowling said afterward. “We dictated the exact scenario all week, and I told the guys this would be what would happen and we’d have a chance to win the game if we scored late and need the two-point play.
“If they hadn’t jumped, we’d have just kicked the extra point and taken our chances in overtime. When you have a fullback like Keylon (Hyde), though, you ride him. It was an easy decision for me.”
Union City had moved into position for the dramatic finish by driving 37 yards in the final 1:25 — without a timeout — to score its only touchdown of the second half.
Khiry Lewis, who had no equal on the West Carroll side in the speed department and finished with 98 yards rushing on just nine carries, had a 16-yard dash around left end to get the Twisters inside the redzone.
Three plays later, Hyde converted a 4th-and-3 by charging over left guard for a seven-yard gain to the two. He scored two plays later.
After the penalty on West Carroll that moved the ball half the distance to the goal line for the conversion try, the War Eagles took a timeout after Bowling sent his offense back on the field and the kicking team off.
“It was veer right….that’s our play. Everybody in the state who has seen us play knows that. We just could get that one yard,” Bowling said, his voice trailing off.
As big as the failed conversion was for Union City, the return of the turnover bugaboo was even bigger.
The Tornadoes — reverting to the form of earlier in the season when they were haunted by lost fumbles — three times were guilty of turnovers, two of those when they were threatening to score inside the West Carroll 15. On the flip-side, WC was turnover-free.
UC also got a dose of its own medicine offensively as the War Eagles twice mounted long methodical  scoring drives to keep the ball alway from the locals, one march lasting 15 plays and covering 84 yards while eating up nearly nine minutes of clock. Another WC touchdown sequence covered 11 plays and 75 yards and milked more than six minutes.
Otherwise, the Twisters had the better of things — ending up with more than 100 more yards (317-210) than West Carroll on essentially the same number of snaps.
Union City led after its third snap as Hyde broke free on a 30-yard scoring scamper after quarterback Travis Rutland had scampered for 49 on the Tornadoes’ first play from scrimmage.
The War Eagles answered on their first series with the aforementioned long scoring drive that QB Jamal Glenn capped with a seven-yard run.
The teams swapped second-quarter scores, Hyde — who carried on 11 of 13 plays in UC’s 79-yard march — diving over from the two at the 4:28 mark.
WC countered after taking the ensuing kickoff with fullback Carson Suite running in from four yards out just 67 second before intermission.
West Carroll received the second-half kick and used up more than six minutes to negotiate 77 yards and take a 21-14 lead on Jacob Wynn’s one-yard run.
The Twisters shut down the host club the rest of the night, though, limiting them to minus-nine yards on their final three second-half possessions.
Ricky Henry and Tymaine Strickland each had six tackles for UC, Strickland making two for lost yardage that included a sack.
Lewis, Keontre Murrell, Jamie Pirtle and Brett Gore were in on five stops apiece.
While complimentary of his seniors that numbered just four players (Michael Dysart, Terrence Fitts, Benjamin White and Devin Burnside), Bowling insisted that the future was certainly bright with returnees at most all positions next year.
“We’ll miss those few that stayed with us in the senior class, but I’m excited about what we have coming back and the future of our program,” the coach said. “Obviously losing tonight hurts and hurts bad because of the way it happened, but us persevering through all we did this year and making the quarterfinals, and the fact that we played so many young kids in doing it is a great testimony to the kids.
“And I think if you’ll give them another offseason in the weight room, we have a chance to do some special things in the future.”
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 11.21.11

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