Warriors one whistle away
MERRY HILL n One whistle.
That’s all Lawrence Academy needed to perhaps pull off the biggest upset of the 8-man football season here last night (Friday).
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the whistle they needed to sound never pierced the cool night air as a controversial call turned the tide in a 42-37 loss to third-ranked Word of God in the regular season finale for both clubs.
The loss ended Lawrence’s season at 2-7. Meanwhile, Word of God improved to 7-2.
Trailing 26-21, Lawrence faced a second down and five play from their own 38 just prior to the midway mark of the fourth quarter. Jacob Rhodes took the handoff and plowed towards the right side of the line. His forward progress carried him to the 41, but the Word of God defense ganged-up on the Warriors runner and pushed him back to the line of scrimmage.
However, despite having his progress stopped at that point, the whistle never blew. Rams defender Isiah Tucker then stripped the ball from Rhodes’ grasp and darted 38 yards to the endzone. That, coupled with a successful conversion pass, staked the visitors to a 34-21 lead.
Now facing a huge mountain to climb, Lawrence never quit. On their ensuing possession, the Warriors marched 80 yards in 11 plays capped by Bryce Cullipher’s two-yard run to paydirt with 2:08 remaining. Jay Spencer ran in the conversion, trimming Lawrence’s deficit to 34-29.
A failed onsides kick followed, giving the Rams the ball at Lawrence’s 46 yardline. Three plays later, Tucker dashed and darted around the Warriors defense en route to a 40-yard TD run. The conversion pass was good, increasing the visitor’s lead to 42-29 with 53 ticks left on the clock.
Still, the Warriors refused to wave the flag of surrender.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Jake Mitchell heaved a 55-yard TD pass to Chad Oliver. Spencer ran in the “deuce” conversion as Lawrence closed to within 42-37 with 16 seconds left in the game.
Again, the Warriors failed on the onsides kick and Word of God ran out the game clock.
Lawrence drew first blood, taking the game’s opening kickoff and driving 71 yards in seven plays. Oliver capped that drive with an 18-yard TD run. The conversion failed.
Word of God answered with a 61-yard march in nine plays. Tucker, who had a hand in all six of his team’s scores, capped the drive with his nine-yard run. The conversion failed, leaving the game tied at 6-6.
Back came the Warriors, this time driving 80 yards in 11 plays capped by Spencer’s two-yard run. Mitchell booted the PAT, giving the home team the lead at 13-6 at the 8:33 mark of the second quarter.
Spencer led Lawrence with 65 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Not to be outdone, Word of God answered with a 55-yard drive that ended with Tucker’s 35-yard pass to Chris Lightner. Tucker added the conversion run as the Rams took a 14-13 lead into halftime.
Tucker, who rushed for a game-high 170 yards and threw for 90 yards, maintained his outstanding play into the second half where he scored on a 13-yard run on the opening possession of the third quarter. The conversion pass failed, but the Rams had padded their lead to 20-13.
Lawrence’s defense accounted for the game’s next score when senior defensive end Ben Blowe picked-up a fumble and rumbled 55 yards to paydirt for the first touchdown of his varsity career. Spencer ran in the “deuce” as Lawrence regained the lead at 21-20.
But Tucker was too much for the Warriors to contain. He directed a drive early in the fourth quarter that ended with his 15-yard TD pass to Jarvis Denning that, with the aid of a non-whistle later in the game, staked the Rams to a lead they would never relinquish.
Score by Quarters
Word of God
LAW: Chad Oliver, 18-yard run (pass failed), 7:03; 1st
WOG: Isiah Tucker, 9-yard run (run failed), 1:33; 1st
LAW: Jay Spencer, 2-yard run (Jake Mitchell kick), 8:33; 2nd
WOG: Chris Lightner, 35-yard pass from Tucker (Tucker run), 4:45; 2nd
WOG: Tucker, 13-yard run (pass failed), 7:13; 3rd
LAW: Ben Blowe, 55-yard fumble return (Spencer run), 3:32; 3rd
WOG: Jarvis Denning, 15-yard pass from Tucker (pass failed), 7:40; 4th
WOG: Tucker, 38-yard fumble return (Tucker pass to Jonathan Taylor), 6:03; 4th
LAW: Bryce Cullipher, 2-yard run (Spencer run), 2:08; 4th
WOG: Tucker, 40-yard run (Tucker pass to Denning), 0:53; 4th
LAW: Oliver, 55-yard pass from Mitchell (Spencer run), 0:16; 4th
LAW n Jay Spencer: 10-65, Chad Oliver: 5-48, Jacob Rhodes: 11-41
WOG n Isiah Tucker: 16-170
LAW n Jake Mitchell: 4-7-0, 85 yards
WOG n Isiah Tucker: 5-12-0, 90 yards
LAW n Chad Oliver: 1-55, Jacob Rhodes: 3-30
WOG n Jarvis Denning: 4-55, Chris Lightner: 1-35