Warriors, Down 21, Mount Furious Comeback to Stun Munroe, 36-33Oct 8th, 2013 | By Admin | Category: Community News, Sports
By William Smith
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Batten down the hatches, lock up the kids, and feed the dog: this is Aucilla versus Munroe. The most anticipated game of the season each year for two schools who probably have more in common than they would like to admit, and thus desperately vie for Panhandle small-ball supremacy in the annual Interstate Rivalry. Folks, this year’s matchup did not disappoint, featuring exhilarating breakaway plays and momentum swings of monumental proportions in what will forever be remembered as one of the great victories in Aucilla sports history. The stage was set exactly 366 days ago when Aucilla pummeled the Bobcats by a nauseating score of 43-0, an outcome which left the Munroe faithful clamoring for the chance to exact revenge, a message made clearer with each opportunity afforded to them by the media. Promises of retribution rang ever vibrant as red and black sought blue and gold for the purpose of bruising black and blue. This year’s game seemed primed for fireworks, and when toe finally met leather at historic Corry Field in Quincy, a frenzied roller coaster of energy ensued that left the crowd raucous from the turmoil of the evening. The breathless pace was immediate: within the first two snaps from scrimmage of each offense, two 50+ yard touchdowns that left Munroe with a slight 7-6 lead that was quickly built upon as both sides traded blow for blow in a heavyweight matchup reminiscent of Ali-Frazier. Munroe seemed to be singularly focused on the annihilation of the Warrior defense as they turned the first half into their own personal track meet, as Bobcat receivers dexterously defeated Warrior press coverage and were rewarded with accurate passes from junior quarterback Will Harris for gouging gains and deflating touchdowns. Before The Warriors could blink, they stood on the brink of blowout as Munroe built a late first-half lead into a seemingly insurmountable 33-12 score. The score itself even seemed generous as both the Aucilla offense and defense were simply outclassed in the opening half. Chief among the offensive issues were several brutal turnovers that halted scoring drives needed to keep stride with the most dangerous team that the Warriors have yet faced in 2013. However, as foreshadowing of things to come, a late second quarter pass hauled in by offensive weapon Timothy Burrus buoyed the hopes of a fading Warrior team by cutting into the Munroe lead with a touchdown, making the halftime score 33-18. Emerging from the healing cocoon of the halftime break was a completely different Warrior football team, one determined to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The emotional guts of the game were found in these last two quarters, the stuff of iron wills and the “never surrender” attitude. “For the first time this season, I saw one single look in the eyes of all of our boys.” Recounted head coach Colby Roberts. “They would not be denied. They weren’t holding anything back. Clear consciences. We haven’t been determined like that yet this season. It was an incredible feeling.” It was then that the onslaught began. Back and forth, both teams fought like titans, with the Warriors putting together several gutsy drives that ended in scores while stymying the Munroe offense again and again to foster chances to continue the comeback. Late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors once again stood on the brink, but this time of one of the greatest wins in school history as the score stood 33-30, with the Bobcats still narrowly winning. At that decisive moment though, the Munroe defense fought back, halting the Warriors’ go ahead touchdown drive within their own five yard line in a brilliant goal line stand that seemed to seal the win with less than six minutes remaining. As the Munroe offense slowly marched down the field, bleeding the clock into submission, it seemed as though the Warriors’ efforts would be for naught until a crucial holding penalty thwarted the Bobcat drive and forced a punt with 1:16 remaining in the game. Aucilla then engineered a nearly perfect two minute offense which began inside their own 20 yard line. Junior quarterback Austin Bishop was dazzling, with incredibly accurate sideline passes that preserved the clock and made huge gains down the field. This drive was capped off by an unbelievable 46 yard run by Bishop, eluding the pass rush at first and then weaving in wide swaths from one sideline to the other, eluding defenders en route to the go-ahead touchdown with just over 30 seconds remaining on the clock. As Bishop staggered back to the sidelines, there was utter pandemonium in the stands and the Warrior bench as the realization of what was about to come to completion swept over the stadium. However, Munroe exhibited the same fight that brought the Warriors back from destruction as they followed suite with their own two-minute drive that brought them within 15 yards of a cold-blooded assassination of the work of the boys in blue, with a first-and-ten in the Aucilla redzone. Four plays later though, the ball fell incomplete in the Warrior end zone, and the journey was over. The Aucilla players, many of them limping, bloody, and squinting with pain, hobbled toward their fans with arms raised and relief in their eyes. Later that night they hoisted the Interstate Rivalry trophy, with bandaged hands and icepacks on every conceivable limb. Said Roberts, “You can’t keep a good man down, and tonight was about redemption. I’ve never been more proud of our team before. Even if we would have lost the battle, they could go the rest of their lives knowing that they fought for every inch. But, it just so happens that we didn’t lose, and we’ll always remember.” The leaders, both offensively and defensively, are difficult to narrow down. Nearly every offensive skill player contributed. Quarterback Austin Bishop more than mended the fences of earlier turnovers with his second-half play, finishing 24/42 for 387 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions. Bishop also rushed for 55 yards and the fourth quarter score. Junior athlete Timothy Burrus once again was the favorite playmaker, with a monster performance of 11 receptions for 192 yards and a touchdown, to go along with 9 yards rushing. Senior wide receiver Casey Demott recorded an impressive game, catching five passes for 120 yards and two scores. Senior running back Brandon Holm had yet another spectacular day with 7 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown, an amazing 14.5 yards per carry. Holm also contributed seven catches for 57 yards. Defensively for the Warriors, junior Cole Schwab was excellent at middle linebacker, with 14 total tackles and two tackles for loss; linebacker Brandon Holm finished with 10 total tackles, as well as two tackles for loss; end Casey Demott recorded 10 total tackles; and freshman end Cameron Burns burst on the scene with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. Following this emotionally exhausting victory, the Warriors (5-1) will enjoy an off week where they will look to heal injuries and prepare for opponent Bishop Snyder (5-1), a supercharged offense that currently averages 31 points per game. The game will take place in Jacksonville on Oct. 18th at 7:30 p.m.