Stritch defenders Brian Gerrier, left, and David Crozier bring down Ottawa Hills Nasri Hajjar.
Cardinal Stritch coach Tony Beier showed plenty of moxie facing Ottawa Hills last night when he chose to go for the win instead of playing it safe and attempting to tie the game with 14.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Moments after Eric McCloskey hauled in a bullet thrown by Hank Taylor for a 19-yard touchdown completion on a fourth-and-six play, Beier didn t send out the Cardinals kicking team and sure-footed placekicker Mary-Lynn Hadley to attempt to tie the score at 28.
Beier went for the jugular, calling on Taylor and the rest of the offensive unit to go for a two-point conversion that would give Stritch a one-point edge with little time left on the clock.
However, Taylor s pass attempt to wideout David Crozier on a rollout slipped through the receiver s outstretched hands to secure a 28-27 come-from-behind victory for the host Green Bears in a Toledo Area Athletic Conference shootout.
We were here to win and it was only three yards, Beier said, regarding his gutsy decision to go for the two-point conversion. I trust my guys and we put them out there. We just needed to make the play.
That s probably our favorite play [for two-point conversions] and we were three or four inches away from completing it.
The Bears, who trailed 21-7 early in the second half, improved to 3-1 overall by opening TAAC play on a winning note. The Cardinals slipped to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
It was a great high school football game, Ottawa Hills coach Chris Hardman said. Basically, it was all that we expected it to be.
Yet, Hardman couldn t have scripted the way the game actually unfolded with the Bears rallying from a two-touchdown deficit by marching on three straight scoring drives in the second half to jump ahead 28-21 with less than three minutes to play. Ottawa Hills quarterback Sam Miller hooked up with Kenny Valuska on a quick slant for a 10-yard touchdown completion with 2:57 remaining for the lead.
We have nine seniors and we told our seniors [at halftime] to just hang in there and stay the course, Hardman said of the Bears halftime discussion. It wasn t a whole lot of coaching. It was just go out and get it done.
Miller, who also scored on a three-yard run earlier in the quarter, said the Bears never doubted they could come back even when they fell behind by two touchdowns against their longtime rivals.
We knew at the half we could win this game, Miller said. We just said, we didn t want the same taste in our mouths that we had last week when we lost to Hicksville.
There s nothing better than beating a rival.
Taylor completed an eight-play drive that covered 65 yards with a one-yard touchdown run, giving Stritch a 14-7 advantage when he also connected with McCloskey for a two-point conversion.
Stritch took a 14-7 lead into intermission and the fireworks were just getting started.
Contact Donald Emmons at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6302.
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