Through 45 minutes, Skyline looked to have sealed a win over Tecumseh.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, a high school football game has 48 minutes. In the final 3 minutes, host Tecumseh scored a touchdown and a go-ahead two-point conversion, then blocked a Skyline field-goal attempt on the game’s final play to stun the visiting Eagles, 22-21.
Skyline head coach Andrew Sorgatz said fourth-quarter mistakes cost the Eagles the game. “You live or die by the football,” Sorgatz said. “Today we died because we didn’t take care of the football.”
Skyline certainly died by the football Friday night. After stopping Tecumseh on fourth down, the Eagles had the ball and a 21-14 lead with 3:11 remaining and had just picked up a first down. On the next play, Skyline running back Marvin Cleveland fumbled, which was recovered by Tecumseh’s Brandon Rau at Skyline’s 31-yard line.
Tecumseh’s no-huddle, option offense went to work, converting a fourth-and-3 to keep its hopes alive, then running back Mason Malinczak scored a 1-yard touchdown with 1:41 remaining to pull the Indians within a point. Rather than kicking an extra point, Tecumseh opted to attempt a two-point conversion, and pulled off its own “Philly Special” as Malinczak took a pitch and completed a pass to a wide-open quarterback Jacob Burns in the end zone.
Skyline didn’t quit. Two long completions from quarterback Addison Taylor-Colquillard to Will Eliason totaling 41 yards gave the Eagles the ball in Tecumseh territory with just under a minute left. Skyline drove the ball to the Indians’ 13-yard line, and lined up to kick a 30-yard field goal for the win. But Tecumseh’s Casey Wild blocked the last-second kick, delivering the knockout punch.
While anyone attending the game will certainly remember the last-second blocked field goal and Tecumseh’s student section promptly storming the field, it wasn’t Skyline’s only missed field goal of the final quarter. Skyline had the ball in Tecumseh territory early in the fourth quarter, leading by seven. After a third-down pass fell incomplete, Skyline kicker Colin Brueger pulled a 37-yard field goal attempt that would’ve given the Eagles a two-score lead.
“I’ve been telling you guys about the importance of field goals all year,” Sorgatz said in an address to the team after the game. “We made too many mistakes to win.”
Ironically, for most of the game, Tecumseh was the team making the mistakes. After a 69-yard touchdown run from Malinczak on the game’s first play from scrimmage, the Indians were on the march again, but an offensive pass interference penalty negated a big play, and Tecumseh later had to punt. Skyline took advantage of two third down penalties to keep its next drive alive, and receiver Jordan Wilson caught a screen pass, broke a tackle and scored a 24-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 late in the first quarter.
Tecumseh scored in the first quarter’s final minute to regain the lead, but its defense once again committed two third down penalties, and Skyline again took advantage, tying the game on a 9-yard touchdown run from Wilson. The game was tied 14-14 after Brueger knocked through the extra point with 6:49 remaining in the half.
Wilson was definitely a bright spot for the Eagles. Already with two touchdowns, he made a leaping catch over a defender for 35 yards, giving Skyline a goal-to-go late in the first half, and Cleveland scored a 2-yard touchdown two plays later to give Skyline its 21-14 lead.
Skyline (1-2) now turns its attention to Southeastern Conference rival Saline, who is 4-0 after throttling Temperance Bedford, 56-14.
Sorgatz said that Skyline will need to play a four quarter game of ‘mistake-free football’ if it wants to hang with
“This one sucks, but we have to be ready to go next week,” Sorgatz said.