Wow! More than a month since ...
In the last two weeks I've been to a couple of great high school football games. Here's the story I had published in The News-Sentinel on Saturday (11-08):
Jimtown 21 - Bishop Luers 14 OT
November 7, 2008: Elkhart, Ind. - Bishop Luers quarterback Quinn Schafer, front, lies on the ground as the Jimtown Jimmies celebrate their 21-14 overtime victory in the Class 2A Sectional 27 championship game on Friday at Knepp Field in Elkhart, Ind. The Knights' reign as the defending Class 2A state champions came to a screeching halt when the Jimmies stuffed Schafer's quarterback sneak attempt on fourth and goal from the 1-foot line to seal the game.
It was Bishop Luers’ ball. It was fourth and goal from the 1-foot line. It was 22 football players jammed so tight it looked like they were trying to squeeze into an elevator. It was the ultimate smashmouth battle to prove who was the meanest, toughest kid on the block.
Turns out, it was Jimtown by an inch – maybe less by some accounts.
After Jimtown scored on its first play in overtime, Bishop Luers took its shot, and the Jimmies stuffed Quinn Schafer’s quarterback sneak to win the Class 2A Sectional 27 title, beating the defending state champion Knights 21-14 on Friday at Knepp Field in Elkhart, Ind.
“You can’t tell me he wasn’t in,” Bishop Luers coach Matt Lindsay said about Schafer’s sneak on the final play. “But you don’t want it to come down to that. I’m sure he was in. Everybody said he was in.
“(Jimtown) played well. Give them credit. They came at us, and it took us awhile to adjust. I thought we had the momentum. It’s tough to swallow.”
“I felt like I got in, but the refs saw it different,” Schafer said. “(Jimtown) made a great surge on the ball.”
Trailing 14-7 after Jimtown’s Nick Magyar capped an 87-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown late in the third quarter, Bishop Luers started to make adjustments. Magyar, who ran for 184 yards and a score, chewed up the Knights 15 yards at a time throughout the game.
Bishop Luers got the football back on the kickoff and put together a sustained drive, their first of the night. On a key third-and long play, Schafer hit Tyquan Hammock with a dump pass and Hammock bulldozed a couple of Jimmies down the sideline to pick up the first down. The Knights had their swagger back.
Arieus Phifer put the exclamation point on the drive, scoring from four yards out. Tony Kebede’s extra point kick knotted the game at 14.
Jimtown went back to work and everybody in the stadium knew the ball was going to Magyar, including the Knights who stuffed him three straight times. Jimtown was forced to punt and the Knights took control of the ball on a short field with a little over three minutes left.
With momentum planted firmly on Bishop Luers’ sideline the Knights started their march to polish off another Class 2A opponent. Jimtown had other ideas.
The Jimmies’ defensive line had given Lindsay’s squad fits all night, but they were able to throw the ball in the fourth quarter. Lindsay later said he should have thrown it sooner. Schafer started hitting his receivers. With 1:36 to go, Schafer threw to Ronnie Williams in the left flats. Magyar was there to make contact, and the ball popped in the air and right into the hands of Jimtown safety Josh Ruben. Bishop Luers’ threat was over.
“I just made dumb mistakes throughout the game,” Schafer said. “I didn’t get the ball up high enough. It left points on the board, but you can’t look back right now. Jimtown played their game well.
Schafer completed 7-of-16 passes for 95 yards with one interception and a fumble lost.
Bishop Luers won the toss to start overtime and opted to go to their defense first. On Jimtown’s first play, Ruben, who is also the quarterback, hit Brandon Kozelka up the middle to strike first.
The Knights took the ball and ran it four straight times. When the referees signaled Schafer short, the Jimtown’s players ran off celebrating like they had won the state title.
As far as the Jimmies are concerned, beating Bishop Luers is just about that good.