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November 5, 2012
Tigers Survive in Double-OT Thriller: In the regular season finale for both teams, the Oscar Smith Tigers and King's Fork Bulldogs gave fans in Chesapeake at Beard-DeLong-Easley Field a memorable close to the Southeastern District schedule as each team gears up for the start of the postseason.
Extending their Southeastern District winning streak to 55 games, Oscar Smith outlasted King's Fork 42-35 in double-overtime. Oscar Smith rallied from a 20-7 deficit in the third quarter and put together a 97-yard scoring drive in 1:56 late in the fourth quarter to tie the game, converting a pair of third downs and a fourth down on its way to sending the game to overtime.
"That felt like a State Playoff game right there. That went down to the wire and the last play. We finally listened to Coach and stopped playing our own game," said Oscar Smith senior receiver and linebacker Melvin Vaughn, an ODU commit who caught the winning touchdown pass from QB Dashawn Blow on third-and-goal in the second overtime session.
"Once we battled back got it to overtime, it felt like an equal opportunity because we were no longer down. It was basically 0-0 and a chance to start over at that point. We need more games like this, especially going into the playoffs. But we've got to play way harder, execute better and get rid of those penalties."
Coach Rich Morgan of the Tigers wasn't pleased with some of the mistakes his team made, but is still very confident his team can defend its Group AAA Division 6 State Championship as long as they perform at the level they did down the stretch.
"I wasn't really happy with the way we played most of the night. To go that far in about a minute and something, that was pretty special. Those are the things we work on in practice and you get to use them once or twice a year. We came through when we had to, and I think we played at a little bit higher level than we had all night in overtime," Morgan commented.
"I saw this coming. We practiced terrible all week. I knew King's Fork was going to be ready, focused, and sometimes you can't convince teenagers how much you know and how much they don't know. I think we got that across tonight."
King's Fork out-gained Oscar Smith 277-238 for the game and ran 12 more plays overall. The Bulldogs also won the turnover margin, +2 with three takeaways compared to only one giveaway.
For an Oscar Smith that has now won 55 in a row in the league, it was only the fifth time during that streak a team played them within 20 points and third time within single-digits. This kind of challenge going into the playoffs, while it showed some things have to improve on, could end up making the Tigers a better team in the long run.
"It's good to be tested. The kids were put in a pressure situation, which is good," believes Morgan. "With the exception of the Byrnes game, we hadn't had a game within 29 points all year. To get that pressure under your belt and prove you can do things under pressure, I think that's beneficial."
Blow completed 5 of 6 passes for 80 yards, hitting four different receivers on the game-tying drive with under two minutes to go in regulation. All coming through with catches on that series were Vaughn, Monty Fenner, Tristan Cahill and Jaylen Bradshaw, who hauled in the tying touchdown from 39 yards out.
"Blow is a beast," his teammate and go-to guy Vaughn said. "He threw an interception, but he did not let up and forgot about that play."
Going into the regular season finale, Blow had completed 62% of his passes for 1726 yards with 26 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Junior Bulldogs QB Uriah Adams had one of his finer outings of the year operating the team's attack as he completed 13 of 24 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, plus two rushing scores as well as a key two-point conversion run that pushed their lead to 13 late in the third period.
"We were doing a good job of shutting down the run, but sometimes we lost contain on the option. Anyone who runs their offense well is going to give you some issues," Morgan pointed out.
"They played very well and fought hard. I wouldn't be surprised to see them win a playoff game because they're a good team. To be honest, they probably deserved to win the game. They out-played us for about 45 minutes."
To go with Adams' numbers, Virginia Tech commit Charles Clark put up 42 yards rushing with 34 of them coming on a reverse run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Freshman tailback Deshaun Wethington grinded out 79 yards on 25 attempts, doing most of his damage in the second half when he gained 48 yards on his first 11 carries after intermission.
To go with his six catches for 48 yards and a touchdown on the offensive side of the ball, Vaughn gave an All-State type of effort defensively, too. He finished up with 12 tackles, there for loss and a pair of sacks.
"Melvin is one of those guys when it gets to this point in the year he's just going to make plays," remarked Morgan. "That's what he does and that's why he's going to college because you're going to play in high-pressure environments every week and you've got to be at your best. I'm glad he's on our team tonight because he really helped us out.
Flowers, who is still seeking his first scholarship offer. He's tops in the team in tackles and also has double-digit sacks on the season. On the night, Flowers recorded 10 stops. With star junior d-lineman Andrew Brown suffering an ankle injury during the contest, his play was indispensable in stopping the run and chasing the quarterback.
"I'm not a college coach, but if I was, I probably would want Darren Flowers on my team," Morgan added. "But hey, I don't get paid that money. I think he's a heck of a ballplayer and sure glad he plays for us."
Grayson carved up the Tigers secondary for much of the first half, but then the Tigers' coaching staff made a move by putting corner Lakwon Chapel on him and from there on the Bulldogs' receiver was less of a factor.
Over the final two periods of regulation and the two overtime sessions, Grayson managed 19 receiving yards. Keeping him in check made the Bulldogs rely more on running the ball, thus the Oscar Smith didn't have to worry about the pass as much.
Matthew Hatfield has covered Eastern Region Football & Basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him on High School Sports Talk from 10AM to Noon on ESPN Radio 94.1 plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.