Frustrated ’Jackets come up short

Frustrated ’Jackets come up short

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 12:34 pm

By RANDY CAVIN
Press Sports
Some missed opportunities, costly penalties and questionable placement of the ball allowed Riverside to squeak out a 20-15 win at Greenfield Friday night.
The Yellowjackets (1-8) had a great chance to get Don Pitt his second win as head coach, but Riverside (3-6) got the breaks and Greenfield did not.
“I am proud of the guys,” Pitt said. “It is late in the season, and they are still fighting. A couple of things go different tonight, and we get a win. It is tough when both teams fight hard like that. It was a good football game, and we came up short at the end.”
How short was it? Just a matter of inches on a questionable ball placement after Greenfield quarterback Jeffery Johnson used a hard count to draw the Panthers offside on two consecutive plays. Facing a fourth down and 10 at the Riverside 17 with about two minutes to play and down by five, Johnson used a hard count to draw the Panthers offside. That put the ball at the 12 with five yards to go for the first.
Pitt decided to have Johnson go with the hard count once again, and Riverside bit on it. But the referee marked the ball just short of the first down at the seven-yard-line. With the Greenfield coaches screaming at him, the referee let the mark stand. Pitt decided to go for on fourth and short with Johnson running a power play, but the Panthers held fast and dropped Johnson for a two-yard loss on the play. That allowed the Panthers to run out the clock and escape with a win.
“That was tough late in the game,” a disappointed Pitt said. “A fourth-and-one and we call our power play. We expect to get that. The ’backers were blitzing, and they stuffed us.”
Even though Riverside gained 362 yards of total offense, the Greenfield defense played well and kept the ’Jackets in the game and forced the Panthers to punt the ball four times, which the Panthers had problems with on two occasions. One was only a 16-yard punt that gave the ’Jackets great field position in the first quarter that led to Greenfield’s first score and the second went off the tip of quarterback Luke Ward’s foot on a quick kick that only went five yards.
Riverside held the ’Jackets after they could not take advantage of Ward’s short punt in the first quarter. The Yellowjackets forced the Panthers to punt once again and took over on their own 47. Johnson connected with Austin Pence down the right side two plays later for a 51-yard touchdown.
After the Panthers took over, they were faced with a fourth down and five at their own 49. Ward used a hard count, and the ’Jackets front line went for it to give the Panthers a first down on the Greenfield 46. Riverside took advantage of the gift on the next play with Ward taking off on a quarterback draw for a 46-yard TD run with 2:18 to play. Riverside missed the extra point to send the game into the second quarter tied at 6-all.
The second quarter went scoreless until with 16.1 seconds left.
Ward hit C.J. McBrath on a fade pattern from six yards out. A botched kickoff put the ’Jackets on their own 43 and on the first play Johnson found Tony Robinson for a 40-yard gain down to the 17. Zach Grebe hit a 32-yard field goal with 1.9 seconds left to make it 13-9 at the half.
Greenfield came within inches of taking the lead late in the third quarter. Facing a fourth down at the Riverside three-yard-line, Johnson took off on a left side sweep toward the corner pylon. He appeared to get the ball over the pylon, but the line judge said he stepped out of bounds.
Riverside went 99 yards and scored in eight plays just five seconds into the final quarter. A 14-yard run and 25-yard run got the Panthers down to the 44. Ward got the ball out to Jordan Goff for a 52-yard gain on the next play to put the Panthers just inside the five-yard-line.
Pence took the kick-off at the 20 and returned it 40 yards down to the Panthers’ 30 to give the Yellowjackets excellent field position. Pence took the ball in from 27 yards out on a jet sweep five plays later. Grebe had his extra point attempt blocked for the second time in the game to end the scoring.
Johnson finished with 163 yards on 8-of-13 passing with a TD and an interception. Pence had 131 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown.
Greenfield will try for the upset this Friday when the Yellowjackets close out the season at home against Trenton.
“All we can do is keep on and get our nose down to the ground to get better throughout next week,” Pitt said. Published in The WCP 10.23.12

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