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Scott's Late-Game Risk Taking Comes Up Short but May Bode Well for Playoffs

On paper, the outcome had no bearing upon Scott’s playoff chances. However, a late-game decision by Head Coach Dan Woolley may. After a scoring drive, the coach was faced with a dilemma: play it safe or risk it. Down a single point with 4:30 to go in the game, Woolley decided to go for two. While the conversion failed, the confidence in his players never waned. Heading into the playoffs next week, that could mean the difference between moving on – or going home. 
“We felt like we had the momentum going there. Last week, we had gone for two twice and had success. The fact is, we’re never going to be sorry about going for the win. You roll the dice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” he said.
Mason County took advantage of a sluggish first half by the Eagles. Senior quarterback Bradley Boone found junior wide receiver Andrew Thacker streaking down the field for a 48-yard touchdown pass giving the Royals an early 7-0 lead.
Each team punted away its next possessions, but Mason County wouldn’t let another chance go to waste. Fielding a Royals’ punt on his own 20-yard line, Scott junior Deondre Pleasant fumbled and Mason County recovered at the Eagles’ 14. A few plays later, Royals’ standout senior running back Rico Hill found the end zone from one-yard out putting his team up 14-0.
After forcing a three and out from Scott, Mason County methodically drove down the field, culminating in a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior Cameron Frame, whom Boone missed on a high pass a play earlier. A few minutes into the second quarter and the Royals held a three touchdown lead.
But the Eagles clawed their way back with a scoring drive of their own.
Taking a second down handoff from junior quarterback Danny Fitzgerald, Pleasant burst up the middle for 30-yards to the Royals’ 23. A few plays later, junior Roberto London ran around the edge for a touchdown, stretching the ball over the pylon as he fell out-of-bounds. Mason County’s lead was cut to 14, 21-7.
Scott got the ball back with over three minutes remaining until halftime and took advantage. But not without a bit of luck.
Driving down to the Mason County 20, junior DaShon Lunsford fumbled, but the ball bounced back up to him as he ran for a first down. London then found the end zone for the second time of the night, capping a 65-yard drive for Scott, inching it closer to the Royals, 21-14.
Out of halftime, things eventually got more interesting. But the timing bothered Woolley, who lamented his teams’ penchant for slow starts. “We gotta start strong and finish strong,” he said.
The Royals took a two touchdown lead again on the strength of another Hill touchdown from six-yards out on their first drive of the second half to make it 28-14.
Unable to take advantage of several opportunities and shooting itself in the foot with several false start penalties, Scott remained 14 down heading into the final quarter.
Perhaps fitting on Halloween night, the Eagles had a trick in store for Mason County. A 54-yard flea flicker from Fitzgerald to London put the Eagles only a score down just into the quarter, 28-21.
But each team made unforced errors on their ensuing possessions. After re-kicking because the initial one sailed out-of-bounds, Mason County’s Will Griffith fielded the second on the sideline boundary, even as the ball was headed out again. But he was bailed out by Pleasant. Fumbling the Royals’ punt, Pleasant gave the visitors the ball back. On a third down and six, Boone fumbled the exchange and gave Scott new life.
The Eagles once again reached into their bag of tricks. This time, senior Eli Sowder took the direct snap and ran 34 yards up the middle for a touchdown and what most spectators assumed, a tie game. But instead of an extra point, Scott’s two point conversion failed and Mason County held on to its lead, 28-27.
On the Royals’ next drive, Boone found a wide-open Frame down the sideline for a touchdown, only it was called back due to an illegal man downfield penalty. But a third down defensive pass interference call against Scott gave Mason County a new set of downs and closed the door on an Eagles’ comeback that fell just short.
Story & photo by Jason Finnell, RCN contributor
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