Two of top five ranked teams in AAA with the visiting coach returning to where he used to work (and win). Yeah, the storylines were too good to pass up. As so often happens though, the game did not go quite to expectation.
The Deacons lead off the game with the ball and didn't take long to make a play. Now, it was a play that they and all their fans would rather not happen but Sibomana Enock jumped the pass and completed the interception. A few plays later and the Bruins were up 6-0 after Lars Hager wrangled a fumble that went into the end zone.
The optional ball security kept rolling all game long, much to the chagrin of each team. Before the first quarter had run out, South had put another touchdown on the board, the second coming by way of a rush in the hands of Enock. Shanley had it's first chance at a score with a 53 yard field field goal attempt that was on line but came up short, but not by a lot.
After a couple more unsuccessful possessions, the Bruins hit pay dirt again as Bless Flomo reeled into a touchdown to make it a 19-0 lead. On their next possession, the Deacons defense was able to close on what they had missed by about a yard in the first half - a safety. Now with a bit of momentum on their side, Shanley put together a sustained drive that concluded with a Cooper Mattern touchdown near the end of the half.
The Deacons coaching staff wanted to keep their positivity rolling and tried to play for one more possession before halftime, but the Bruins were the only ones to benefit from the strategy. After a bomb into the red zone, Robert Leslie took a screen pass for six more to make it a two touchdown game again.
After the break it was the Deacons that were able to capitalize on an error, this time in the form of a fumble. Against a short field the Bruins defense was able to stifle the scoring opportunity to another field goal attempt, which yet again was off the mark.
After a couple empty possessions the Deacons got another turnover and didn't squander that latest chance. On what appeared to be a sure interception by South, Shanley's Henry Collins took the pass and ran into the end zone. If there was a better single play made in the region, I didn't see it!
Still with the 26-16 lead and less than a quarter and a half to play, South remained in control. Appearances can be deceiving though and Shanley took it away for the third time in the quarter with another fumble recovery.
The Red and White kept the ball into the fourth quarter and capped it off with another touchdown run by Mattern, which cut it to a three point game.
After a penalty ridden possession that ended with a punt by South, Shanley's offense was back to work. For the third time in the game they got within Emmet Kenney's range. The snap was good, so was the hold, Kenney's foot hit the ball & it sailed between pipes - but a flag was thrown again, wiping out the game tying kick with a false start! The five yard difference was the kryptonite and the ball went to the left of the pipes for the third time. Even as a neutral observer it was tough to see.
Then things went really haywire - literally. With 5:03 to go in the game, the scoreboard stopped working. After a few minutes of delay it was determined that the clock would be kept on the field, which I think really threw everything off. There's no way to know whether the result would have been different but it was a melodramatic way to finish what had been an exciting game overall.
#3 South 26, #5 Shanley 23
Player of the Game