Corona 17 Highland 21
These two teams came into this
quarterfinal match-up as the two hottest teams in 5A. It is a shame that someone
had to lose because this game could have gone either way.
Highland used half of the 1st
quarter to score on their opening drive. They pounded the ball behind their
massive offensive gaining 3 to 4 yards at a time. This then set up play action
passes that took up big chunks of yards. Highland QB Ryan Fair found Ralph Mack on gains of 11 and 35 to put
the Hawks inside the 10. They then used a bit of trickery, going with an
unbalanced line and then using back-up QB Brian Mistro lined up at RB to throw a
TD and make the score 7-0.
Both teams would then trade 3 and
outs but Corona
looked as if they would get things going. They used RB Dan McClendon to march down the field.
McClendon had gains of 9, 2, 15, 8
and 5 on consecutive runs but Corona then threw 3 incomplete passes and Shaun Fitzpatrick sacked QB Blaise Johnson to force the turnover on
At the end of 1 the score was
Highland 7 Corona 0 but the Aztecs turned things around in the 2nd
quarter. The defense started by making huge plays. LB Jake Taylor tackled RB John Hershberger for a loss and then DE
Andy Stitt sacked Fair on consecutive plays to force a
punt on 4th and 31. This gave Corona great field position and some momentum.
A 12 yard McClendon run, a 15 yard
face mask penalty and a 15 yard Blaise
Johnson run and the score was tied at 7-7.
Corona DB Alex Richardson picked off a Fair pass and Corona capitalized on a 32 yard Kevin Hager field goal to give
1st lead at 10-7. This was the score at the
Highland came out in the
2nd half the same way the started the 1st, using RBs Hershberger and Wes Orth to pound the ball inside the
Corona 10 yard
line. LB Jake Taylor came up huge,
he forced a fumble that was picked up by Dan McClendon and returned 95 yards to make
the score 17-7 Corona.
The two teams would battle back
and forth until the 6 minute mark in the 4th quarter. That is when Fair found Derek Denning for a 24 yards TD pass to
get Highland back in the game at 17-14. That score was set up by a hook and
ladder play that eventually ended up in the hands of Ralph Mack. The momentum had clearly
Highland then recovered a pooch kick and
looked to have the game in their grasp. But Orth fumbled and Corona DE Mitchel Hunt picked it up and took over
attempting to run out the clock. Four run plays and a huge defensive stop later
and Highland was
right back in the driver's seat. They took over from the 50 yard line with under
2 minutes to go. Fair threw 3 straight incomplete passes and Highland's season came
down to one play. 4th and 10 and Fair found Brian Mistro for a 37 yard gain inside
the 5 yard line. John Hershberger
punched it in 3 plays later and Corona's last ditch Hail Mary passes fell
Bottom Line: This was an awesome game. It is a
shame that one of these two teams had to get eliminated. They were both playing
extremely well. Corona was able to capitalize on
some key Highland fumbles. Highland will have to take better care of the football if
they plan to beat Hamilton as Hamilton will be looking
Game Balls: Highland TE/DE Shaun Fitzpatrick had 3 sacks and had
quite a few nice catches. Also to the Highland
defense for making the huge stop on 4th and inches to give their
offense a chance to win the game.
Corona LB Jake Taylor played extremely well. He played his
butt off and was making plays in the backfield all night long. Also Corona RB Dan McClendon ran well, he easily
averaged over 6 yards per carry and over 100 yards.