Bobcats savor dramatic victory
Aldine Payne has won a lot of ballgames and he’s lost a lot of ballgames. It’s all part of being a veteran head coach.
So yes, Friday night’s victory over Reynolds was special. But not for him.
“That’s great — for the kids,” Payne stressed. “I’m so happy for him and Mason.”
That would be Matthew Murray and Mason Striplin, a couple of seniors who found themselves on the wrong end of a game-winning field-goal attempt against Reynolds one year ago.
The situation proved eerily similar: Glenn dominated, yet failed to take control. The Bobcats appeared poised to sneak away with a win on the final play of the game. The kicks, remarkably enough, were both from 28 yards out.
Last season, the ball never had a chance and Reynolds celebrated a 15-13 win. This season, Striplin’s hold was true. Murray’s kick was strong and straight. The Bobcats won 17-14.
“(The snapper) told me it was his fault, Mason told me it was his fault, Matt said it was his fault,” Payne recalled of last year’s ending. “I admired all of them for taking the blame for it.”
This season, Murray, Striplin, snapper Austin Wall and the entire special teams unit could revel in success. After the kick, Glenn’s players swarmed onto the field to celebrate before the handshake line formed.
“Finally making a game-winning kick – you see the pros do it. They make it look so easy,” Murray said. “It was crazy. Everyone was just everywhere. I didn’t know what to do, honestly.”
Despite the situation, Murray said he didn’t feel any extra pressure. And as for the whole déjà vu thing? “I didn’t realize it was the same team,” he admitted.
The Bobcats improved to 2-2 after winning this oddest of games. Glenn forced five punts in the first half and surrendered a mere 47 yards of total offense, yet only led 14-7. After scoring with ease on their first two possessions — one touchdown coming on Terrell Jones’ 5-yard run and the second on D.J. Miller’s 19-yard scamper — the Bobcats could do little right.
Quarterback Jordan Jarrell, who nearly guided Glenn to a win at Reagan last week in a relief role, completed just three passes and threw an interception that led to Reynolds’ touchdown just before halftime. After that pick, three straight penalties on the defense put the Demons inside the 10-yard line.
Glenn opened the second half with a 55-yard kickoff return by Shaquan Gadson, but after he was tackled in a jarring collision with Reynolds’ 6-foot-6 kicker Robby Casey at the 25, the Bobcats went nowhere and lost the ball on downs.
Following another punt and a lost fumble, fellow junior Greg Keller entered at quarterback. Keller and Jarrell have split time this season, and this time, Keller was able to keep Glenn moving. After Reynolds tied the game at 14-14 with 4:41 remaining, Glenn took over at its own 33-yard line.
A facemask penalty pushed the ball to midfield and Keller hit Chris Pinkos for a 14-yard gain. A holding penalty temporarily stalled the drive before Glenn got the Demons to jump offsides on fourth-and-5 from the 33. Keller hit Miller on a short pass to the right flat – which he brought all the way back across the field before cutting up for an 11-yard gain – and then Miller rushed for 13 more yards to set up first-and-goal at the 4.
That’s when it got weird. Jones took a pitch to the right side and appeared to be bottled up before the huge pile shifted like a rugby scrum to the goal line. An official signaled touchdown and Glenn’s players celebrated for a minute before second-and-goal from the 1 was ruled by other officials. Seconds later, Jones waltzed into the end zone for the apparent winning score, only to have a flag come flying: There were 12 Bobcats on the field, a 15-yard penalty with 26 seconds to play that gave the Demons another shot.
Two plays later, though, the kicking team came on and exorcised those demons of a year ago.
Despite its many mistakes Friday night, the Bobcats will feel a lot better at practice this week as a 2-2 team rather than a 1-3 squad. The Bobcats visit North Davidson this Friday – the school where Payne’s wife, Kim, coached for years and the school from which their daughter graduated.
“They’ve always treated me like family there,” Aldine said with a smile. “They’re not gonna treat me like family next week. But it’ll be great for the kids to play in that great atmosphere.”