Jackets garner OT thriller
The play was designed to go wide to the right side. It was a direct snap to Dawson Pendergrass. The point of attack was outside the right tackle. At the snap of the ball, the left side of the Bullard line surged up, creating a logjam where the play was supposed to go. Pendergrass took two steps toward the right and hesitated. A split second before two Panther edge defenders arrived at him from each end of the line, he sighted the narrowest crease just to the left of the intended point of attack...
Jackets garner OT thriller
The play was designed to go wide to the right side. It was a direct snap to Dawson Pendergrass. The point of attack was outside the right tackle. At the snap of the ball, the left side of the Bullard line surged up, creating a logjam where the play was supposed to go. Pendergrass took two steps toward the right and hesitated. A split second before two Panther edge defenders arrived at him from each end of the line, he sighted the narrowest crease just to the left of the intended point of attack.
It was exactly where Isaiah Gardner, the Yellowjacket right guard, had stood his defensive lineman straight up and was turning him to the right. David Reyes, the right tackle, had engaged the filling linebacker. The two created a wall. Pendergrass cut and accelerated just off of Gardner’s hip. He powered ahead into the end zone for the winning score.
Mineola beat Bullard in overtime, 44-43, Friday.
It was a joyful moment, in a game which will be talked about at the two schools for a long time.
It was also only fitting that Pendergrass scored to win the game. Seldom does one individual effect a football game in the manner that Pendergrass did in Bullard last Friday. The numbers: rushing yards 235 yards on 22 carries; one returned interception (50 yards) for a score; one receiving touchdown (a 47-yard jaunt after taking a swing pass in the backfield); two long scoring runs (a 42-yarder and a 64-yarder); a 34-yard scoring pass; and a blocked extra point which sent the game into overtime. He also deflected a pass late in the game which was then intercepted by JaMarcus Kennedy. The play killed Bullard’s last chance to win the game in regular time.
In overtime, he rushed for 21 of the 25 yards to score and forced his way into the end zone to secure the win with the 2-point conversion.
That is a spectacular performance.
The game itself was a three-hour advertisement for high school football. Bullard started the night with an onside kick attempt. Mineola covered the kick and took over at their own 47-yard line.
On the Jackets first snap, quarterback TJ Moreland swung a flare pass to Pendergrass who sliced through the Panther defense for a 53-yard score. With eight seconds ticked off the clock, Mineola took a 6-0 lead.
Bullard generated some offense. On a first down near midfield, they attempted a deep post route into double coverage. The receiver was bracketed between Kennedy and Moreland. Kennedy ripped the ball away from the receiver for the turnover.
Mineola couldn’t move the ball, however. Penetration by the defensive line was closing down the deep hand-offs from Moreland to Pendergrass.
The sides exchanged possessions as the defenses made impactful adjustments.
Late in the first quarter, it was Bullard which put together the first long drive. The Panthers hit timely passes to keep the drive going. Several times the Mineola defense was within arm’s reach of the Bullard quarterback but could not get a solid tackle on him. Bullard held a 7-6 lead as the first quarter expired.
Mineola started the second quarter with the momentum. After their next drive stalled, they were buoyed by Pendergrass’ pick-six. The return featured a stiff-arm and a final cut between three defenders to reach the end zone. He also carried the 2-point conversion over the right side for a score. Mineola went up 14-7.
Bullard came storming back with a long drive, most of it through the air. The score, however, came on a 14-yard run through the left side of the Jacket defense. The Bullard halfback was untouched.
The Jackets torpedoed their next drive with a fumble, and Bullard managed a field goal at the end of the half. At the break the score stood 17-14, Bullard.
Both teams made telling adjustments at the half. Bullard used a short passing game to loosen the Jackets defense and began to exploit the aggressive defensive front of Mineola, by allowing them upfield and running draws past them.
The Panthers took a 24-14 lead early in the third quarter.
Mineola answered with Pendergrass carrying 42 yards – the last 25 of which included carrying a couple of Bullard defenders with him. When he crossed the end zone, there were four defenders hanging on him. Midway through the third it was 24-21, Bullard.
The sequence repeated itself. Bullard scored on a long drive and Mineola answered when Pendergrass took a lead sweep around the left side 64-yards for a score. After three quarters the score stood 30-28, Bullard.
Great defensive work by Adam Blalock and Corde Berry stopped the Panthers on their next possession. Mineola then drove the ball to mid-field. A Bullard penalty put the ball down to the 34-yard line. Pendergrass took a direct snap, faked a quick toss to Braydon Alley and hit Brady Shrum for a score. Mineola was up 34-30. The 2-point conversion once again went through the right side, and Mineola led 36-30.
The teams exchanged possessions with no effect.
Bullard then leveraged some long runs to mount a scoring drive late in the fourth. The score remained tied at 36 as Pendergrass leaped over the line and blocked the point after touchdown attempt.
Each team threw an interception in the final moments. The turnovers kept the game locked at 36.
In overtime, Bullard scored on two big running plays, using power-lead runs over the left side. They slotted the PAT to take a 43-36 lead.
Mineola took five plays to score – all on the ground. In addition to previously-mentioned blocks by Gardner and Reyes, Yellowjackets Mario Bautista teamed with Kennedy to execute a great double team block on the last drive. Bryson Myers and Paul Stanley also made key blocks in overtime.
The stage was set for Pendergrass to end the game with two scores, and record an amazing individual performance, and a memorable team win.
The win over Bullard may be just what is prescribed as the Jackets prepare to host the Mt. Vernon Tigers Friday to open district play.