Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back-to-Back Onsides Kicks Spur Tommies' Win Over Polars

Scenes like this made me think that every football game could be improved upon by playing in front of trains.
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Friday's matchup between the North High Polars and the Edison Tommies was that work kept me from missing at least some of the action.  I couldn't make it before part of the first quarter had passed by, and the Tommies were already up 14-0.  Adding insult to injury of this volunteer blogger, the Star Tribune has not posted the full box score of the game like they used to last year.  I haven't found out yet whether this is due to cutbacks at the newspaper or if the schools simply didn't pass on enough information.  So I won't be able to describe HOW the Tommies jumped out to the early lead.

Looking at the program, I was struck at how YOUNG our North High Polars team is this year.  We have only a handful of seniors, and quite a few sophomores and freshmen are playing at the varsity level.  On the other hand, we weren't sure if we would even have a school this year, much less field a football team.

Thankfully, watching the Polars, it's clear that they have athleticism and heart, and when they take the field it's not with an attitude of "we're just glad to be here."  They expect to win.  Unfortunately, the youth of the team shows at times.  One of my best football coaches stressed the little things over and over.  Hustle all the time, never, ever take your helmet off or remove your mouthguard, hustle, know the play and get to your spot.  And hustle, that seemed to be important.  Do enough of the little things, and the big things take care of themselves.

That's a lesson these kids are still learning, but they gave Edison a handful by...

...holding their ground on several key defensive stands in the first and second quarter.  In the second, the Polars were facing third-and-nine from the Tommies' 31-yard line.  On a broken play, quarterback Lorenzo Hargrove showed some amazing moves and scrambled for a 69-yard touchdown run.  A two-point conversion brought North within six, 14-8.

On the ensuing drive, the Tommies brought the ball deep into their own territory, consistently getting between six and ten yards or more per play.  But on a fourth down with four yards to go, Tommies' running back Trevor Daily was brought down for a loss of three.  Hargrove immediately connected with a favorite receiver, Coreay Jones, for a gain of over thirty yards.  A sack, followed by a false start and a delay of game penalty (there's that inexperience again) had the Polars pinned down on a third-and-nineteen.  Hargrove once again hit Davis, this time for a roughly sixty-yard touchdown pass.  A botched extra point attempt left the game tied at fourteen.

With 2:04 left in the half and North High set to receive to start the third quarter, things were looking up for the Polars.  But the Tommies marched seventy-one yards in six quick plays, scoring on a 13-yard pass from QB Hassan Robertson.  The half ended with Edison up 21-14.

Edison kicker Luis Balbuena kicked two consecutive onsides kicks, one to start the second half and then after a Tommies' TD, they recovered the second one.  Both kicks hit Polars' players in the hands and should have been recovered for decent field position.  Instead, the touchdown to close out the first half and the two trick plays made for a 21-point swing where the Polars never even had possession.

The Polars' next drive was marred by their own penalties, negating an athletic first-down scramble by Hargrove.  On a short field, the Tommies punched in another touchdown, going up 41-14.

Still, there was plenty of fight left in the Polars.  Hargrove picked up two rushing first downs, and Dontarius Tyler had a ten-yard run where he just moved the pile down field.  Hargrove capped the drive with an impressive 37-yard touchdown run, juking out almost every Tommies' player in the process.  Hargrove has a hair-raising running style where he rarely tucks the ball close to his body, making North fans worry every time that someone will punch it out and force a fumble.  While fundamentally unsound, those maneuvers faked out enough Edison players to get North on the board again.

If you could just tuck the ball in, I think my heart would start beating again.  Please?
Or, you know, score a touchdown...that's cool too.
 With plenty of time and a 41-22 deficit, North still held on to a glimmer of hope.  And the glimmer started getting brighter when Tommies' penalties (false start, holding) and North's defense (sack, fumble) set up a long third down of thirty-nine yards to go.  Then Edison wideout Brian Givens (himself a Hawthorne resident at one time) delivered the knockout punch.  Robinson connected with Givens for a 33-yard gain, followed by a reverse play to Givens for a 39-yard run.  The touchdown that came later was almost an afterthought; those two plays sealed the game.

Final score, Edison 53, North 22.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to tell you, it was Brian Given's birthday the day of this game too!


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