OP splashes past Gar-Field


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DALE CITY — Osbourn Park coach Brian Beaty said it best.

“It was like three yards and a cloud of mud,” he said.

Except that it really wasn’t three yards. It was more like one, the final yard that stood between the Yellow Jackets’ line of scrimmage and the goal line.

Roland Hilliard, accustomed to running for more than one yard at a time, got that final yard to give Osbourn Park a 6-0 overtime win in a key, non-district contest on Tuesday night.

Neither team managed a point for four quarters. In fact, the overtime session — when the ball is placed at the opponent’s 10-yard line — was as close as either team came to the other’s goalline.

That wasn’t much of a surprise, given the conditions. The field, soaked by a cold rain that began mid-afternoon, reflected what light made it to the muddy midfield — though much of that light was diffused by steam and the steadily-falling rain. The players seemed to be playing for the same team, their uniforms, save for the helmets, buried under mud.

That proved difficult in identifying players, even from the people that knew them best.

After winning the toss at the beginning of overtime, Osbourn Park (7-1) deferred, giving the Indians (5-3) the ball. On its second play, Gar-Field ran an option: quarterback Elihu Smith ran to the left end, but was pressured quickly. He pitched the ball back to Rasheed McClaude, but the toss was off.

Players from both sides scrambled for the ball and Osbourn Park came up with the ball. After the game, even Beaty wasn’t sure who it was.

With possession, OP wasted little time. Hilliard opened with a 4-yard carry up the middle, followed by an inside reverse to Richard Terrell, whose 5-yard gain put the ball within a yard of the goal line.

Hilliard went through the middle of the line cleanly for the final yard, setting off a wild celebration at midfield.

Through four quarters, both offenses were equally unable to move the ball. A relatively big game would be followed by a penalty or some other setback.

On their second series, the Yellow Jackets got the first first down of the game on a 9-yard pass from Doug Suliga to David Beachy. But an unsuccessful Hilliard run, an incomplete pass and a penalty put OP in a third-and-14 situation. A reverse to Bryan Lewis lost three yards, necessitating a punt.

McClaude had one of the Indians’ longest plays of the night — a 17-yarder in the beginning of the second quarter that put Gar-Field in OP territory. But McClaude followed the big gain with a run that only got back to the line of scrimmage. On the next play, Smith fumbled but recovered, lost four yards on the next play and, on third down, got only half of those back. Facing fourth and long, Gar-Field punted.

The game had only 10 combined first downs, and, in regulation, the closest either team got to the goal line was at the end of the third quarter, when Gar-Field made it as deep as OP’s 33.

But, like many other drives for both teams, costly penalties prevented a chance at keeping the drive going. After seemingly going three-and-out, an OP coach was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, changing a Gar-Field fourth-and-seven into an Indian first down.

Two plays later, Gar-Field scored successive first downs on two runs by Smith. But the Indians were subsequently flagged for delay of game and, a play later, illegal procedure. That put the Indians into a first-and-20 hole from which they never fully recovered.

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