By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
After playing for 47 minutes to a tie, it only took 11 seconds for it all to fall apart for Glencoe.
The host Yellow Jackets withstood a first-half onslaught from a good Saks squad, before two touchdowns in the final minute provided the difference in a 35-21 Wildcats’ win Friday night in Class 3A, Region 5 high school football action.
Saks took a 21-7 lead into halftime, but Glencoe had an answer in the second half.
But two mistakes in the final minute erased that strong effort.
“The kids came out and played hard and they played their hearts out,” Glencoe coach Lee Ozmint said. “I’ve been more disappointed in wins before than I am about this loss. Don’t get me wrong, I want the ‘W.’
“I’m never happy with a loss, but they played their hearts out tonight.”
After giving up 381 yards in the opening half, the Yellow Jacket defense took over. Glencoe (2-4, 2-2) allowed just 126 yards in the third and fourth quarters – with 47 of those yards coming on the winning touchdown.
Saks (5-1, 4-0) began that drive on its own 35-yard line with 2:46 left in the game. After a short pass and three short runs, the Wildcats got the match-up they wanted.
Quarterback Timothy Johnson found Devin Harris in single coverage and the receiver did the rest, taking the short pass and shaking loose from the tackle before racing 47 yards for the touchdown. The point-after kick increased the lead to 28-21 with :52 left in the game.
Not only trailing, Glencoe began its next drive deep in its own territory on the 14-yard line. The starting field position was not ideal, something Ozmint pointed out after the game.
“We bent and we bent, but I am disappointed in special teams more than anything,” the coach said. “We have got to do a better job returning kicks. We started way too deep.”
The poor field position did not help quarterback Hunter Nunnally.
With Saks knowing the Yellow Jackets would have to pass, the Wildcats dropped into deep pass coverage. The defensive adjustment paid off on the first play, as linebacker Mautaveus Young did not have to move, intercepting Nunnally’s pass, then rumbling 25 yards for a touchdown.
The score, combined with the PAT, gave Saks an insurmountable 35-21 lead with :41 left in the game.
Nunnally drove the Glencoe offense on its next possession, but his pass into the end zone was intercepted on the final play of the game.
The sophomore signal caller had a big game for the Yellow Jackets. Nunnally completed 7-for-17 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He also led Glencoe with 139 yards rushing and another score on 16 carries. We have a young quarterback, but he grew up tonight and he’s becoming a better player. We’re very confident in him. He’s going to be a dang good quarterback. I believe he turned a corner tonight. Hunter did a great job.”
In the second half, the Yellow Jackets defense did a great job, too. Glencoe eliminated the big plays that doomed it in the first two quarters, allowing the offense to claw its way back into the game.
Saks’ big play ability took a hit when starting running back Ladarius Young went down with a leg injury on the fourth play of the second half’s opening drive. Young did not return to the game and his absence seemed to change the momentum.
In the first half, the senior doubled Glencoe’s offensive output by himself. The running back had 242 yards on just 13 carries, compared to the Yellow Jackets’ 127 total yards.
Ladarius Young had two long touchdown runs, where he showcased his speed and cutback ability. It would have been an even bigger half had his 52-yard touchdown run not been called back on a holding penalty.
He scored on a 54-yard run on Saks’ third play from scrimmage, taking a handoff to the left before cutting across the field and outrunning Glencoe defenders to the end zone. The PAT made it 7-0 with 9:27 left in the first quarter.
After a Glencoe punt, the Wildcats went to work again, driving to the Glencoe 17-yard line before the drive stalled forcing a field goal try.
The Yellow Jackets special teams unit kept it at a one-possession game, blocking the 35-yard field goal attempt.
Again, Glencoe’s offense could not really get anything going, although the Yellow Jackets did drive into Saks territory before turning over the ball on downs.
Saks drove deep into Glencoe territory, getting to the 15-yard line. But on fourth-and-2, Saks was called for a false start penalty, moving the ball back to the 20. The Wildcats decided to go for it, but Johnson’s pass was knocked down by Glencoe’s Austin Hancock in the end zone.
Following a four-and-out by Glencoe, Saks got the ball on their own 47-yard line. After a 1-yard loss, Johnson found receiver Tremon Smith open deep down field for a 54-yard touchdown strike.
Ladarius Young scored on an 85-yard touchdown run on the first play on Saks’ next possession for a 21-0 lead with 4:09 left in the first half.
Glencoe was able to answer right before halftime, although it was a big-strike, two-play drive, with Nunnally doing all the work. On the first play of the drive, the quarterback kept the ball, rushing for 55-yards.
The next play, Nunnally again took the snap and found an opening up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown run. Joseph Bright’s PAT cut the score to 21-7 with 3:47 left in the second quarter.
On their opening possession of the second half, the Yellow Jackets kept the pressure on Saks with a six-play, 52-yard drive. Nunnally provided the possession’s big play, keeping for a 41-yard run. Daniel Otwell took it in from there on the next play, scoring on an 11-yard run. Bright’s PAT cut the deficit to 21-14 at the 6:25 of the third quarter.
Glencoe was able to tie the game on a monster 13-play, 74-yard drive that ate up 6:05 off the clock. Nunnally was able to convert a third down and a huge fourth down with passes to Daylon Freeman.
On second-and-7 from the 10-yard line, Nunnally found Freeman open on a post in the back of the end zone. Bright’s PAT tied the game at 21-21.
In addition to Nunnally’s strong performance, Thomas Ozmint had 51 yards on 15 carries for Glencoe. Otwell had 12 carries for 39 yards and the touchdown, while Freeman caught four passes for 48 yards and a score.
Johnson completed 10-of-16 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, with Smith catching six of those completions for 132 yards and a score. Also for Saks, Harris caught three passes for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Glencoe travels to Cleveland on Friday for an important Region 5 contest.