Time runs out on Warriors
By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 18, 2005 2:09 AM
On a night where D.H. Conley was flagged for nine penalties for 95 yards, the final flag -- against Eastern Wayne -- proved to be a heart-breaker for the Warriors.
Facing third-and-goal at the Viking 4-yard line and trailing by five, Eastern Wayne quarterback Tyler Ham spiked the ball with one second left and seemed to stop the clock to give the Warriors one more shot at a game-winning touchdown. But, an illegal procedure penalty was called on the play against Eastern Wayne.
The head referee marked off the five yards, put the ball down and the final second ticked off the clock with the Warrior offense near the sideline -- getting instruction from the coaching staff for a final shot at the endzone. The penalty nullified Ham's spike and kept the clock moving as Conley escaped Little Big Horn with a 24-19 win over previously unbeaten Eastern Wayne.
"It's heart-breaker. I explained to the guys what the deal was. We got the procedure call and when they set the ball, one second ticked off and that's the ball game," Eastern Wayne coach Jeff Price said. "That's the best team we've played all year long when it comes to size, strength and speed, but we played with them."
"All you can ask is to be in a position to win at the end. There's no doubt in my mind if we get another play off that we can get it in the endzone."
The Warriors (3-1), missing three starters due to injury, cut into a 17-6 deficit late in the first half and carried that momentum into the second half. After Eastern Wayne's Kendrick Best recovered a fumbled punt by Conley on its own 10, Ham found Clint Rouse in the back, right corner of the endzone to make it 17-12 with :27 left in the half after the kick failed.
One week removed from the kicking game coming through in the clutch at Wilson Fike, the Warriors missed two extra points and had a 35-yard field-goal attempt blocked in the fourth quarter -- taking five possible points off of the board.
"We missed some kicks that were crucial," Price said.
With 2:37 left in the third, the blocked field goal was grabbed out of the air by Conley's Jeremy Herring and brought back to the Warrior 48. On the first play from scrimmage, the Vikings capitalized when Wesley Nichols dashed 48 yards on a sweep around the left side to make it 24-12 after Francisco Garcia's kick.
Eastern Wayne was down but not out.
On Conley's first possession of the fourth, the Warrior defense held and the Vikings (3-1) turned it over on downs at the Eastern Wayne 29. Two plays later, Ham connected with Rouse on a 53-yard bomb down the middle of the field to make it 24-19 after Andrew Corley's kick.
Ham finished with 144 yards through the air on 10-of-21 passing with three touchdowns. All three scores went to Rouse, who had a season-best 94 yards on four catches. Ham completed passes to six different receivers, also turning in his best performance of the season through the air.
"He (Ham) takes a pounding and keeps coming at you. He's a playmaker, and the toughest player I've ever seen," Price said. "He made some nice strikes down the field to Clint (Rouse) and the other receivers."
A holding penalty hindered Conley's next drive as the Warrior defense made matters worse with four tackles for a loss on the possession. Facing fourth-and-25, the Viking punt traveled a mere two yards -- setting up Eastern Wayne near midfield for its frantic final drive. The Warriors eventually ran out of time, but not before converting three first downs, including two, fourth-down conversion passes by Ham.
The Warriors were forced to punt on their first possession of the game, but capitalized on another short punt by Conley on their second drive. With 2:18 left in the first, Ham hit Rouse on a 27-yard strike to make it 7-6 after the kick failed.
Conley went up 10-6 on a 22-yard field goal by Garcia early in the second, then 17-6 on a nine-yard run by quarterback Mike Taylor with five minutes left before halftime. Taylor did not complete a pass all game, but was one of four Viking rushers with 39 or more yards in a 254-yard effort.
Eastern Wayne gained just 98 yards on the ground with Andrew Blevins leading all Warrior rushers with 42 yards on eight carries. Leading rusher Al Graham was limited to 25 yards on 12 carries as Conley seemed to key on the bruising back.
The Warriors return to action at home next Friday against Class 4-A Apex in their endowment game. The Cougars (3-1) are coming off a 42-22 loss to Raleigh Millbrook.
"Our guys are learning and progressing, and we'll have another tough test next week with Apex," Price said.
D.H. Conley 7 10 7 0 -- 24
Eastern Wayne 6 6 0 7 -- 19
DHC -- Clifton 11 run (Garcia kick), 8:50
EW -- Rouse 27 pass from Ham (kick failed), 2:11
DHC -- Garcia 22 kick, 11:14
DHC -- Taylor 9 run (Garcia kick), 5:53
EW -- Rouse 6 pass from Ham (kick failed), :27
DHC -- Nichols 48 run (Garcia kick), 2:37
EW -- Rouse 47 pass from Ham (Corley kick), 7:31
First downs 14 15
Rushes-yds. 39-254 34-98
Passing yds. 0 144
Total yds. 254 242
Att.-Comp.-Int. 6-0-0 21-10-0
Penalties yds. 9-95 5-55
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Punts-avg. 2-7.5 4-36
RUSHING -- D.H. Conley -- Brian Daniels 4-21; Josh Jones 16-68; Jeremy Clifton 9-67, TD; Mike Taylor 6-39, TD; Naiem Ali 1-7; Darnell Barrett 1-6; Wesley Nichols 2-46, TD. Eastern Wayne -- Al Graham 12-25; Andrew Blevins 8-42; Kendrick Best 2-(-6); Dwight Ulmer 7-31; Tyler Ham 5-6.
PASSING -- D.H. Conley -- Mike Taylor 0-6-0 0. Eastern Wayne -- Tyler Ham 10-21-0 144, 3 TD.
RECEIVING -- Eastern Wayne -- Clint Rouse 4-94, 3 TD; Kendrick Best 2-22; Dwight Ulmer 1-6; Riley Wilkins 1-7; Andrew Blevins 1-16; Al Graham 1-(-1).
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