September 24, 2011

Friday roundup: Kicking keeps teams ranked

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to and follow him on Twitter.

For all the big runs, long passes and jarring hits, football often comes down to kicks.

Just ask a number of teams in the RivalsHigh 100.

No. 7 Prattville was upset in a stunner when Opelika (Ala.) High's William Black calmly put one through the uprights on the final play of the game.

No. 35 Miami Central avoided overtime when it made a big kick of its own.

Then there was the make and the miss that determined the big Moeller-St. X game in Cincinnati.

St. X thought it had sent the game into overtime with a field goal, only to discover Moeller had called a timeout seconds before. We've never been a fan of the move but as long as it's allowed, there's no reason not to use it. The second attempt was missed.

With that, a recap of those games and plenty other ranked teams in action Friday night.

Opelika 16, No. 7 Prattville 14

Down one, on the road, big screaming crowd - it was all no big deal to William Black.

The Opelika kicker hit his third field goal of the game with nine seconds remaining, this one a 25-yard effort that produced a stunning upset.

"I had been feeling good all game with the past couple of kicks," Black told the Montgomery Advertiser. "We wanted this so bad. I know my team was going to need me to make a kick, and I was going to be there."

Prattville, which began the year as the No. 1 team in the RivalsHigh 100, took a 14-13 lead on a TD pass from Justin Thomas to Justin Shanks with 3:38 to go. But the Prattville defense could not stop Opelika, which moved the ball down the field to set up the winning kick.

  • RivalsHigh take: This is a stunner. Prattville has dropped games it shouldn't have in the past, but this may be one of the biggest upsets in the history of Alabama Class 6A football. The Lions may need a loss like this to refocus the team on a state title. On paper, this is the most talented team in the state - it hasn't shown that it is on the field.

    For more, check out this report in the Montgomery Advertiser.

    No. 13 Moeller 27, No. 29 St. X 24

    Offense, defense, special teams - you never know what will decide a football game.

    Friday night's big matchup before roughly 10,000 in Cincinnati between Moeller and St. X came down to a timeout.

    Moeller coach John Rodenberg called a timeout right before St. X kicked a game-tying 32-yard field goal with six seconds left. The result? St. X had to kick again. The next time it missed.

    The miss helped Moeller hold off a comeback. It led 27-10 in the third quarter.

  • RivalsHigh take: St. X nearly pushed this game into overtime and potentially stole one that it was dead to rights. Moeller should be thanking its lucky stars on this one as the momentum had clearly shifted in the fourth quarter. It is unclear whether the Moeller team had turned off its emotional energy but it looked flat once it got up big.

    For more, check out this report in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    No. 35 Miami Central 24, Elder 21

    Things weren't looking up for Miami Central after Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder scored a game-tying touchdown with 1:12 to play.

    Going to overtime, especially on the road, is never easy.

    Sophomore Eric Pittman made sure that didn't happen. Pittman returned the ensuing kickoff to the Elder 36. A few plays later, Emilio Nadleman kicked a 34-yard field goal and Central escaped with the victory.

    Pittman wasn't the only sophomore to step up for Central. Sophomore running back Joseph Yearby had two rushing touchdowns, including a 76-yard run in the third quarter.

  • RivalsHigh take: This is a good win for a rebuilt Rockets team on the road. What is bad is that in the previous two weeks, Elder had been crushed by Louisville Trinity and Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward. Measuring up those results to what ended as a great game with Miami Central is likely going to slide the team back down the rankings. Elder is one of the best teams in the country that is suffering with a losing record.

    For more, check out this report in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

    No. 72 Oaks Christian 36, No. 40 St. Bonaventure 24

    Oaks Christian triumphed behind 177 yards passing from Brandon Dawkins, 106 yards rushing from Carlos Mendoza, 98 yards receiving from Chris Davis - and a timely power outage.

    St. Bonaventure, down 27-10 enter the fourth quarter, scored twice to pull within three - then the game was stopped for roughly a half hour when the lights went out.

    When they came back on, Oaks Christian had regained its footing and rolled to the win.

    "It definitely hurt our momentum," St. Bonaventure quarterback Marc Evans told the Ventura County Star. "It was just a tough night all around. We were coming on in the second half, but couldn't get it done."

  • RivalsHigh take: Continuing to muddy the waters in California are results like this. St. Bonaventure has a win over Corona Centennial and now a loss to Oaks Christian. Oaks lost a game to Bellevue (Wash.) High and all of those will factor into the rankings. The best team in California may not be determined until the playoffs - and by then it may be a team currently off the radar.

    For more, check out this report in the Ventura County Star.

    St. Mary's 35, No. 48 Lincoln 27

    Lincoln got a big win over Sacramento (Calif.) Grant last week, but it did have enough to topple cross-town rival Stockton (Calif.) St. Mary's as it fell for the eighth straight time in their series.

    "We were all really pumped up for the game," St. Mary's running back Jalen Ward told the Stockton Record. "It's a big rivalry. We wanted to show these guys we're the best team in Stockton."

    Ward showed he was ready, rushing for 213 yards and a score.

    Lincoln's Justin Davis did his part, rushing for 269 yards and four scores on 38 carries.

  • RivalsHigh take: It is hard to imagine that Lincoln would be on an emotional let-down game but it appeared that St. Mary's - which was dominated by De La Salle a week ago - was much more into this game than its ranked opponent. The Northern California landscape has all but paved a path for De La Salle to find its way to an Open Division Bowl game unless there is a team that can beat the Spartans in the playoffs, which based on past history is not likely to happen.

    For more, check out this report in the Stockton Record.

    No. 84 Mission Viejo 17, No. 81 Long Beach Poly 12

    Apparently defense wins rivalry games, too.

    Mission Viejo beat Long Beach Poly for the fourth-straight time, thanks to its unheralded defense.

    Poly managed only 101 total yards, including just 9 on the ground in 18 carries. Only an 85-yard interception return by its defense kept Poly close.

    Mission Viejo quarterback Alex Bridgford was 12-for-25 passing for 195 yards and two scores.

    "Our defense, I'm really so proud of them," Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson told the Orange County Register. "It's defense. It's offense. It's kicking game. It's a team game and the team won the game. ... It's a great win. They always play really strong against us. We must have their number."

  • RivalsHigh take: These were two teams that were not separated by much in the rankings and not separated by much on the field either. Had this game been played 10 times, it may be a series split as both teams are quality opponents for one another. Mission Viejo can still fight forward and earn a higher ranking in California, but this win will not boost its stock too much.

    For more, check out this report in the Orange County Register.

    MORE: Analysis: Lescano outplays Houston as St. Thomas Aquinas rolls De La Salle

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