Saturday, November 12, 2016

SPORTS STORY >> Sylvan Hills shocked by Chapel

Leader sports editor

The Watson Chapel Wildcats were celebrating wildly, but it still somehow seemed stone silent on the Sylvan Hills sidelines. Blue Bears’ uniforms scattered intermittently between the south end zone and the 20-yard line, some standing in shock, some sprawled on the turf in anguish, some sitting dejectedly with facemasks between knee pads.

It was supposed to be the Bears’ year, but it came to a stunning and crashing halt Friday night at Blackwood Field in Sherwood. The Watson Chapel Wildcats overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit, scored with no time left and made a two-point conversion to defeat the Bears 36-35 in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Sylvan Hills entered the game 9-1 and hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2002. The Bears were considered one of the top contenders for this year’s state championship.

Sylvan Hills coach Jim Withrow could barely find words after the game.

“We just, I don’t know. We just didn’t do anything in the second half. It’s just, not good.”

The Sylvan Hills offense was machine-like for most of the first half, and the Bears were on the verge of blowing the Wildcats off the field. Sylvan Hills sliced up the Chapel defense on its first two possessions, averaging more than 10 yards per play and taking a 14-0 lead with 6:19 to go in the first quarter.
Meanwhile the Sylvan Hills defense was being stingy. Chapel got just 29yards combined on its first two possessions.

The Wildcats third possession got to the Bears’ 2-yard line, but the defense made a goal line stand to give the ball back to the offense 98 yards from another score.

Because of 25 yards of offensive penalties, the Bears had to overcome being behind the chains, but they did so twice. They even had a third and 33 from their own 9-yard line they converted when quarterback Jordan Washington hit Fred Mackey for a 40-yard completion.

In all, the drive consisted of 122 yards of offense, but slotback Deon Youngblood fumbled just short of the goal line as he dived for the score. The ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback.

Again, the Bear defense bent but didn’t break. Chapel drove to a first and goal at the 3, but turned it over on downs at the 5.

This time the Bears overcame second and 11 with a 36-yard reception by Jamar Lane to the Chapel 48. Washington had to leave the game because his helmet came off after picking up a first down at the 37.

On the very next play, backup quarterback Ryan Lumpkin kept on a quarterback draw and raced 37 yards up the middle for a touchdown with 51 seconds left in the half.

Tito Mendoza’s extra point sent the Bears into the locker room with a three-touchdown lead, and expecting to get the ball to start the second half.

But shortly after the second-half kickoff, things began to go wrong for the home team.

The Bears lost a fumble and an interception. And a high punt snap set up a one-play, 2-yard touchdown drive by Watson Chapel that tied the game at 21-21 with 11:50 left.

Sylvan Hills’ next drive ended with a missed 27-yard field goal attempt by Mendoza, and Chapel took the lead with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard keeper by Dorsey with 3:15 remaining.

Sylvan Hills finally got things going and scored in just four plays, with Lane catching a 14-yard pass with 1:52 left to tie the game.

Darius Waddell then covered an onside kick for the Bears, and they scored again on a 45-yard reception by Youngblood with 1:06 to go. Mendoza’s extra point gave the Bears a 35-28 lead.

That set up Chapel’s game-winning drive. The key play was a 45-yard catch by White on third and 10 to the Sylvan Hills 8-yard line. He was forced out of bounds with two seconds remaining, but an illegal participation penalty moved the ball to the 4.

Dorsey rolled left to pass, but tucked and ran when he saw no one open, and scored with no time on the clock.

He then rolled right for the conversion, and hit White at 1. White bounced off two tackles and stumbled backwards into the end zone, just inside the pylon to give the Wildcats the win.

Watson Chapel (8-4) advances to the second round, where it will face Alma, a 38-13 winner over Blytheville on Friday.