Last Friday night, Oct. 12, the drama was high and the stage was set for a great night of high school football. The 6-1 Hononegah Indians were at home taking on their conference rivals, the 7-0 undefeated Boylan Titans. The NIC-10 conference championship was on the line. The stadium was packed with screaming fans for both sides. Multiple stateline media outlets were on hand to cover the action. It was everything a high school football fan, player, coach or writer could ask for.
Most experts thought it would be an opportunity for both teams to showcase their powerful offenses. The Indians have a formidable rushing game, while the Titans have scored more points than any other team in the conference. The wind was calm, and the temperature was cool. All factors indicated this could be a high-scoring game.
Sometimes things dont go exactly as predicted. At the end of the first half, the score was 3-0 in favor of Hononegah. Both offenses played tentatively. The defenses were in control. The only points came on the final play of the half when Indians kicker Jake Gillette nailed a 25-yard field goal right before time expired.
The start of the second half was almost a mirror image of the first. Both teams moved the ball on offense, but the defenses continued to bend without breaking. Finally, late in the third quarter, Boylan had the ball deep in Hononegah territory when their quarterback, Zack Lane, spread the offense and ran a quarterback draw. The play worked perfectly, and he managed to find his way into the end zone. The extra point attempt was no good. The third quarter came to a close with the score 6-3 in favor of the visiting Titans.
Boylan held steadfast in the fourth quarter. Hononegah looked like they were driving deep into Boylan territory for at least a game-tying field goal when their quarterback, Dave King, fumbled the ball on an attempted handoff. Boylan recovered the loose ball, and managed to cling to the slim 3-point lead.
Hononegah would get one more shot at tying the game with less than 2 minutes to go in the game. They were out of timeouts. They had to advance the ball by throwing short passes to the sidelines. After a few first downs and a couple of spiked passes at the line of scrimmage to stop the clock, they were set up for a 44-yard field goal attempt to try to tie the game. Gillette came back onto the field with less than 7 seconds left in the game. The ball was snapped, and placed down perfectly. The kick was high enough to clear the line. It was sailing end over end and right down the middle as it headed for the goal posts. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the ball landed 2 yards shy of the cross bar.
The game was over. Boylan fans cheered as their team came away with their eighth win in a row and the conference title. Hononegah fans were stunned as they watched their team drop to 5-2. Now, they could only hope to meet up with the Titans again later in the playoffs.
Both teams played with a ton of character, courage and pride. It was the classic example of the old adage, Its a shame someone had to lose.
I would never have guessed that a 6-3 football game could have been so exciting. Congratulations to both teams!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
from the Oct. 17-23, 2007, issue