Yellow Jackets come up short in 3A semifinals

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

Glencoe High went toe to toe with the two-time defending state champions on Nov. 28 at Wilson-Darnell Field, but ultimately Madison Academy put the brakes on the Yellow Jackets’ undefeated season.

Nathan Geis’ 32-yard field goal with 9.7 seconds left gave the top-ranked Mustangs a 31-28 victory in the Class 3A semifinals and a berth in the state championship game for the third straight year.

The Yellow Jackets, who finished the season with a 13-1 record, were making their first state semifinal appearance since the 1993 season.

“We got beat by a heck of a football team tonight, and they’re probably going to win the state championship next week” said Glencoe head coach Lee Ozmint. “We preach the little things, and tonight the little things caught up with us. A play here and a play there and it could have been a different outcome. Unfortunately for us, it didn’t happen. [Madison Academy is] an athletic team with about three Division I prospects. We made some big plays down the stretch but we also gave up some.”

What made the loss particularly tough was that Glencoe had the chance to take a two-possession lead midway through the fourth quarter.

After Malik Miller 29-yard touchdown run put the visitors ahead 28-21 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter, the Yellow Jackets took over at their own 37.

The drive appeared to stall out at Mustang 37 on a failed fourth down conversion attempt, but Madison Academy (14-1) was flagged for pass interference on the play, bringing the ball to the Mustang 22.

Four plays later on fourth and 1, Andrew Willis caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Stone. Joseph Bright’s fourth PAT of the night tied the game at 6:44 of the fourth period.

The momentum remained in Glencoe’s favor when Madison fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and Aaron Bush recovered at the Mustang 27.

Following a seven-yard gain by Thomas Ozmint, however, the Yellow Jacket drive began to fall apart.

A holding penalty on third down moved the ball back to the 30, followed by a two-yard loss. Stone’s pass completion to Thomas Ozmint netted only eight yards on a fourth and 15, giving the ball back to Madison on downs with just under four minutes left in the game.

“I think that changed the ball game for us,” said Lee Ozmint. “It’s the little things that make a big difference in a big ball game, and we didn’t convert right there.”

The Mustangs proceeded to drain the clock with nine straight running plays, alternating between Miller and Kerryon Johnson. A 20-yard scamper by Miller moved the visitors into Yellow Jacket territory.

Madison eventually arrived at the Glencoe 17, and on fourth and 3 Geis came through with the winning kick.

“I’m disappointed, but words can’t describe how proud I am of our kids right now,” said Ozmint. “Our kids played hard tonight like they’ve played hard for the past 14 weeks.”

For Glencoe, Thomas Ozmint rushed 33 times for 136 yards. Stone gained 101 yards and scored two touchdowns on 16 carries. He also was 7 for 11 in passing for 115 yards. Willis caught three passes for 24 yards. 

Pace Ozmint had 11 tackles, followed by Mason Brown with 10 and Austin Bush with six.

Johnson and Miler combined for 353 rushing yards, with the former gaining 168 yards on 19 carries and the latter 161 on 14 attempts.

After a scoreless first quarter, the teams traded touchdowns on six consecutive offensive series. Glencoe got on the scoreboard first by way of Stone’s 1-yard keeper at 9:10 of the second period.

The Mustangs answered just over a minute later on Miller’s 51-yard touchdown run, but the Yellow Jackets put together a 14-play, 80-yard drive that drained almost eight minutes off the clock. The hosts converted two fourth down conversion attempts along the way, polishing off the series with Ozmint’s 17-yard touchdown run with 1:28 left before halftime.

That lead lasted for all of 74 seconds, however, as Ashton Coward’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Miller at 54.2 sent the teams into the locker room tied at 14.

Glencoe regained the advantage on the second half’s opening drive when Stone torched the Mustangs defense with a 59-yard scoring run. Bright’s PAT made it 21-14 at 8:35 of the third quarter.

The Jacket defense looked to have forced a three-and-out on the next Madison series, but on a fourth and 4 the Mustangs faked the kick and Johnson broke free for 25 yards and a first down at the GHS 32. Johnson took it to the house on the next play to tie the game at 21.

“We knew it was a fake and we had him in the backfield,” said Lee Ozmint. “We just didn’t wrap up.”

Senior safety Hunter Nunnally came up with an interception on the next the Mustang possession, but the play was wiped out on an illegal block on the return. That penalty moved the ball to the Jacket 29-yard line, and two plays later Miller scored for a 28-21 lead.

“In spite of the loss, I’m proud of how our kids have played through the season,” said Lee Ozmint. “They’ve shown a lot of character and a lot of class, and the outcome of this game doesn’t change that at all. Hopefully we’ll learn from tonight and next year’s team will be a better team because of that.”

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