TBO Prep Sports Hudson
Pasco Survives Another Close Call
Bart O'ConnellHUDSON - D.J. Clower knew the Cobra Stadium crowd was loud, but he couldn't hear them. He stepped to the line for Pasco's final offensive play, a play that would decide the Pirates' fate in their district opener against Hudson.
Published: September 28, 2008
Published: September 28, 2008
"You know you're in the zone when that happens," Clower said of the eerie silence any focused football player experiences in a crucial moment.
The play, a corner or out route designed for sure-handed wide receiver Chaise Dunn, worked to perfection. A crisp throw by Clower and an easy catch and tip-toe into the end zone by Dunn with 10.9 seconds left. It completed a come-from-behind, 17-15 win for the Pirates (4-0, 1-0 Class 3A, District 8).
The final minutes of the fourth quarter showcased the complete range of emotions for a football player, especially within Clower.
He had to leave the game briefly on the preceding drive with a leg injury, and on his first play back, fumbled the snap which was recovered by Hudson's Randy Jonas with 2:33 left and the Cobras leading 15-10. It was Pasco's seventh fumble and second turnover.
"I thought it was over, then I realized we had all our timeouts, and we had a chance to stop them," Clower said.
The Pirates' defense did its part, forcing a three-and-out, and Hudson punted to their own 45 to set up the scoring drive.
Cool and calm, Clower went to work, scrambling for a short gain before hitting Dunn over the middle for a 34-yard pass, down to the Hudson 6. On the next two plays, Jamall Haynes ran up the middle for 2 yards and Josh Johnson lost 2 trying to get to the sideline, sapping most of the remaining time off the clock.
Clower spiked the ball to make it fourth down, and setting up a situation he had never been in as a football player - a win-or-lose, do-or-die play where his team needed a touchdown. And Clower-to-Dunn delivered another clutch win for the Pirates, following last week's one-point win against Wesley Chapel.
"When we played Wesley Chapel, it was a tough game. And Coach [Tom McHugh] always preaches to us resiliency - championship teams have resiliency," Dunn said. "They just gave us the ball back, now it's our turn to do our job."
Hudson (0-3, 0-1) also did the job after trailing by 10 at the half and refusing to quit, putting together back-to-back, 11-play touchdown drives to wrestle the lead away from Pasco.
Zack Wynn found Dylan Buono for the first score, a 28-yard pass, before Coach Mark Nash unveiled what his staff called the "jumbo" formation - a shotgun, power-I set with two large offensive linemen blocking for a runningback (Dylan Luke and Justin Busiere) who takes a direct snap.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Luke scored from 12-yards out, and Frank Serrano made an incredible left-handed 2-point conversion shovel pass to Buono of a botched extra point snap to give Hudson a 15-10 lead, which came 10.9 seconds from holding up.
"We played great on defense in the first half, and I got out-coached in the second half," McHugh said, praising Hudson's comeback. "It's a wake-up call. I just hope that we can go back to work hard and try to strive to do things right, cut out the mistakes. I'm happy that the team won and I kind of think they deserve it, though Coach Nash did a great job."
Hudson ran for 77 yards in the second half after losing 3 yards on 10 first-half carries. They also held the dynamic Josh Johnson to negative yardage in the second half after he gained more than 100 in the first two quarters.
Pasco now has a huge early advantage on the district foe that finished runner-up last year.
"We did an excellent job preparing for this game," Hudson coach Mark Nash said. "Ten seconds, just 10 seconds short. I don't know what else to say."
Correspondent Bart O'Connell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.