Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Hillside offense soars by Senators

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills football coach Jim Withrow said all summer long that his offense was going to be good, and that his defense would take a little longer to come along. If Monday’s performance at the Pulaski Robinson jamboree is any indication, he was right.

The Bears played one full quarter of live game action against Robinson and another quarter against Greenbrier. All three teams went 1-1, but the first quarter of play between Robinson and Sylvan Hills made Withrow’s comment about the offense being good look like a major understatement.

The good part of that one quarter of play is that the Bears put up numbers that resembled full-game statistics. Sylvan Hills scored five touchdowns and rolled up 339 yards of offense against the Senators.

“You know you don’t even think about (the statistics) until you look up and you’ve scored 33 points,” said Withrow. “I don’t know if we should expect that every quarter we play this year, but this tonight, this is about confidence. And playing like that will gain you some confidence.”

The bad news is the defense gave up three touchdowns and 196 total yards, and special teams missed two extra points, which weren’t live.

“The defense is going to get better,” Withrow said. “We’ve got some good athletes over there, we just don’t have a lot of experience. But that’s going to get better. I’m confident about that.”

Sylvan Hills made a statement on the first snap from the 30-yard line when quarterback Trajan Doss kept on the option, turned up field outside the left tackle, dodged one defender, cut to the sideline and ran 70 yards for the score.

The defense started out looking almost as good as the offense, forcing the Senators to turn the ball over on downs on each of its first two possessions. After the first stop and on the Bears’ second play from scrimmage, Marlon Clemons carried the ball 44 yards to the Robinson 3-yard line. After a bad snap lost 4 yards, Clemons, lined up on wing, took the handoff around the left side and scored from 7 yards out. The PAT by Zac Brown made it 14-0.

After the second defensive stop, the Bears needed 39 yards for another score, and got 37 of it in one play. This time a 37-yard pass over the top of the defense from Doss to sophomore Jordan Washington set Sylvan Hills up at the 2-yard line. Fred Williams carried it in from there. The extra point was good, and after only six offensive plays, the Bears led the Senators 21-0.

Things began to break down on defense on Robinson’s next possession. After stuffing the run for a 1-yard loss, the Bears jumped off sides to set up second down and 6 yards to go. After another tackle by linebacker Jonathan Hicks for negative 4 yards, Robinson hit a deep out route about 25 yards downfield. James Waller was the last line of defense, and when he broke in front of the receiver and missed the ball, there was nothing between the receiver and goal line.

Sylvan Hills was then stopped on downs after an initial carry of 12 yards by Doss. Robinson took over on the Bears’ 48 and after a delay penalty, hit a 50-yard pass over the top to the 3. It took just one more snap to score and make it 21-14.

Sylvan Hills gave the Senators a heavy dose of running back Fred Williams on the next drive. Williams had three-straight carries of 7 yards before a holding penalty on Clemons erased a 4-yard gain by Nathan Thomas. Hicks then got a carry for 8 yards before the Bears went back to Williams. He took the handoff up the middle, ran through two tackles and rumbled 47 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, leaving it 27-14.

Robinson completed a 24-yard pass on its first play of the next drive. After a pair of incomplete passes, the Senators connected for 46 yards and another score to make it 27-21 with 2:12 left in the quarter.

Two carries by Clemons and Williams netted 7 yards before Doss and Washington hooked up for another 40-yard gain to the Robinson 23. Thomas carried for 6 yards but another fumbled cost two and made it third and 6. Williams carried for 4 yards to the 15. On fourth down, Doss hit wide receiver Cameron Dews on a perfectly thrown fade route to the left corner of the end zone with 15 seconds remaining. The missed PAT left it 33-21.

The offense wasn’t bad against Greenbrier, gaining a respectable 96 yards, but the fumbles continued and this time, the Panthers gobbled two of them up. In all, the Bears fumbled six times in two quarters of play and lost two of them.

Greenbrier, usually a pass-happy offense, handed off numerous times to 220-pound running back Carson Matthews, with the first one going 45 yards to the Bear 25. Four plays later the Panthers were in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Sylvan Hills answered, driving 75 yards in 10 plays, with Doss gaining the last 24 on an incredible run. He kept on the zone read and went left. He was hemmed against the sideline by five defenders after about 3-yard pickup, but made some miss and broke the tackles of the rest to spring loose and score.

Greenbrier went back down the field on the ensuing possession to score, and the Bears turned it over on their remaining two possessions. After giving up touchdowns on five-straight possessions, the defense got back to how it started the evening, by getting stops on Greenbrier’s last two possessions.