BUCYRUS – Plenty of terms are used by radio, TV and print media to describe a coach’s call that just doesn’t quite work out.
Or the popular, “I’m not sure I would’ve done that!”
Or the less tactful, “That was just a bonehead move!”
All three could’ve described three different moves by the Wynford Royals, and all three worked out in favor of the Delta Panthers in a come from behind 21-15 win in the first round of the Division VI playoffs Saturday night at Wynford.
Early on top-seeded Wynford sliced up the Delta defense behind the running of quarterback Zach Hoffman and Nick Looker, as the Royals went 68 yards in 12 plays with Hoffman covering the last 13 for a score just a second over six minutes into the game.
Looker’s pass to Josiah Johnson after a double pitch option got the two-pointer and an 8-0 lead.
After the Panthers went three-and-out, the Royals drove again, eating up huge chunks of yardage that included a 22 yard aerial from Hoffman to Tony Watson to set up a first-and-goal at the Delta 7 yard line.
The Panthers held Wynford to six yards the next three plays setting up fourth-and-goal just inside the one when maybe the less tactful “bonehead” call occurred.
With the play clock running down, Hoffman, looking to the sideline in Wynford’s normal spread, suddenly went under center to try a sneak into the end zone.
He had about as much success with that as Minnesota did against Michigan as he was stuffed by Devon Richard, Chance Veller and a host of Panthers to deny a score that would’ve put the Royals up at least 14-0.
Jesse Beverly’s 34 yard run, where he carried Royal tacklers for the last 20, got the Panthers out of the shadow of the goal line before the Panthers again punted.
After one first down, Wynford again faced a fourth down decision with a yard to go at their own 42.
And again Royal coach Gabe Helbert chose to go for it.
And questionable decision number two arose as again he got the same result as the first time, as Looker was dropped for a loss at the 40.
This time with momentum on the their side, the Panthers cashed in on the opportunity.
Beverly slammed his way for runs of 11 and 12 before Bailey Storeholder got the edge from six yards out with 3:52 left in the half to slash the Royal lead to 8-7 at the break.
Beverly’s rushing in the second quarter was just a sample of what was to come in the third quarter as the junior fullback rammed the line again and again, chewing up 32 yards on six carries, and getting help from a 13 yard burst by Storeholder and the same from Dylan Rogers to get to the Royal one.
Beverly blasted in from there to give the Panthers a 14-8 lead with 6:39 left in the quarter.
The next Delta possession was more of the same, as Beverly carried 12 times out of the 17 plays in the drive that started from the Panther 18.
Wynford seemingly had Delta stopped on a fourth down at the Royal 7, throwing Beverly for a yard loss on fourth-and-2.
However, a face mask call gave Delta first down at the four where Beverly found paydirt three plays later to make it 20-8.
The Panthers left the gate open as they kicked the extra point to make it a 13 point lead instead of going for two and bumped the lead to two TDs and two conversions and Wynford made that choice more visible going 58 quick yards in four plays.
Hoffman’s 40 yard dash set up his own six yard touchdown jaunt that with the conversion chopped the lead to 21-15 with 6:49 left.
After stopping the Panthers, Wynford got the ball back after Looker’s 20 yard punt return to his own 49 with 3:25 to go.
Here came “I’m not sure I would’ve done that”.
Wynford gained yardage but also found themselves using most of the 25 second play clock, and with zero in the timeout column, ended up in a critical fourth down situation at the Delta 41 with 1:27 left.
Looker gained 9 to get to the 32 but for some reason their was less of a sense of urgency by the Royals on the field than their fans in the bleachers as plays from the sideline were slow to get in and Wynford continued for some unforeseen reason to huddle.
As precious seconds ticked off between plays, Looker’s halfback option pass was just off the mark.
Then, on the next play with 20 seconds left Hoffman’s pass, intended for what seemed like no one wearing Royal blue, was picked off in the end zone by Dustin Marteney to allow the victory formation and a Panther win.
Beverly ate up 164 yards in 30 carries to lead the Delta total offense as the Panthers attempted only three passes and none in the second half.
The Panthers (7-4) now play Van Buren in the second round at Springfield on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Joe Blystone can be reached at [email protected]