November 26, 2011

Friday roundup: Games of their lives

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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.

Some may find this hard to believe, but we actually enjoy being wrong at times.

If it means teams jump up to surprise heavy favorites while playing the games of their lives, we're all for it.

It's what high school football is all about.

It's the best way to describe Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Tesoro's shocking come-from-behind victory over No. 19 Servite.

Or Page (N.C.) High's stunner over No. 24 Mallard Creek ... or Gainesville (Ga.) High's big win over No. 45 Sandy Creek.

Well, you get the point. Here's a look at some big surprises Friday night.

Tesoro 24, No. 19 Servite 20

You wouldn't think the biggest win in school history would come easily, would you?

And when Anaheim (Calif.) Servite ran out to an expected big lead - 20-3 at halftime - few thought it would come at all.

But Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Tesoro believed, using a solid run game and stingy defense to pull the upset and knock Servite out of contention for a CIF bowl bid.

Tesoro started its comeback behind running back running back Blake Rodgers, whose 3-yard run on the opening drive of the second half made it 20-10.

The defense then stepped up with Jay Perez producing a 20-yard fumble return for a TD.

Rodgers then got the winning points, busting a 52-yard tackle-breaking run for the victory.

"This is probably the biggest victory in our school's history," Tesoro coach Brian Barnes told the Orange County Register. "Nobody gave us an opportunity besides the kids here, our coaches and our Tesoro fans."

RivalsHigh take: Just last week, the debate was whether Servite was worthy of a CIF Open Bowl bid with the flaw being that the team often plays to its level of competition. Tesoro has been a competitive team all season but few thought this would be the way the Friars season came to an end. This can be filed, again, with the overall California evaluations this season. There are so many good teams and so few great teams. It is a great season for fans but maddening for national rankings.

For a complete story, check out this report in the Orange County Register.

No. 94 Page 41, No. 24 Mallard Creek 27

Apparently knocking off defending champion Butler wasn't enough.

Page, unranked until a week ago, stated its case as the most overlooked school in North Carolina by shocking undefeated Mallard Creek this week, overcoming a 12-point deficit in the process.

Blake Hickman helped Page take control in the third quarter when his 38-yard fumble return produced a 33-27 lead.

The offense then went to work, with QB James Summers hitting WR Tevin Morrison with a 32-yard TD pass for the final margin.

The victory improves Page to 14-0, but it's not done yet. Next up for Page is a meeting against Garner (N.C.) Magnet for the Class 4AA state title.

RivalsHigh take: Like last week, Page trailed early and then made a mad dash to take a commanding lead. While most expected this to be a coronation of a great Mallard Creek season, Page took the spotlight and ran with it. The turning point came when Mallard Creek running back Jela Duncan went out of the game late but Page earned every bit of the last two wins.

For a complete story, check out this report in the Charlotte Observer.

Gainesville 35, No. 45 Sandy Creek 21

With a dozen teams in the RivalsHigh 100 - not to mention the top spot in the RivalsHigh state rankings - we knew Georgia had plenty of talent.

Apparently it's more than we thought.

Gainesville (Ga.) High, led by a amazing five-TD effort from sophomore QB Deshaun Watson, ended No. 45 Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek's state-best 41-game winning streak to advance to the AAA semifinals.

Jackson threw for 220 yards and two TDs, including the go-ahead score when the game was tied at 21 in the third quarter. He added 100 yards and three TDs on the ground.

RivalsHigh take: This ends a long winning streak for Sandy Creek. It also will end the team's stay in the RivalsHigh 100. With an expected run to another state title, this was a bit of a surprise. Gainesville is a solid team - and has been ranked nationally within the last five years - so while it is another solid upset, it is not monumental as others that happened this week.

For a complete story, check out this report in the Gainesville Times.

Blue Springs South 40, No. 70 Christian Brothers 37

Hard to imagine that a game with 77 points came down to defense, but Blue Springs (Mo.) South ended St. Louis (Mo.) Christian Brothers' dream of an undefeated season when Connor Harris picked off a pass late in the game.

It was just one of three big plays for Harris, who had an interception return for a score in the first quarter and added a rushing touchdown later.

His backfield mate, Steven Sullivan, added three scores of his own as Blue Springs South won the Class 6A state final for the first time since 2006.

The victory helped Blue Springs South finish at 12-2 overall. And it gave Kansas City a bit of bragging rights in its annual battle with St. Louis for supremacy in the state.

RivalsHigh take: Blue Springs South was one of the hottest teams in the state through the playoffs and that continued in this win. We predicted Christian Brothers to win a close one and were on the wrong side of it. Blue Springs South is another team that has been ranked nationally in the recent past and so the shock value of this win is pretty low. The group of quality teams in Missouri is growing and that is a great thing.

For a complete story, check out this report in the Kansas City Star.

Tyler 42, No. 82 Highland Park 39

You can't say it was a surprise - what with Dallas (Texas) Highland Park going out in the third round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season - but the way Highland Park went out this year certainly was a shock.

Driving for a potential game-winning score or game-tying field goal in the final seconds, Highland Park moved all the way to the Tyler 12.

A 5-yard penalty moved it back to the 17, then a killer 17-yard sack pushed it back to the 34. Highland Park was forced to try a 51-yard field goal to tie, but it didn't even get it off. A breakdown on the play forced it to try a desperation pass. The pass failed and Highland Park's undefeated season was over.

But don't be confused, Tyler certainly did its share to earn the victory, too. Especially QB Greg Ward, who was an almost-perfect 17-for-19 for 217 yards and a score while rushing for 104 yards and two more scores.

RivalsHigh take: John Tyler was a ranked team in the preseason but suffered some stunning losses this year. To see it come together in the playoffs is not as much of a surprise as the way this game went from headed to overtime to over. Texas playoffs have a way to separating pretenders and contenders and it did so in a big way this week in the Class 4A playoffs.

For a complete story, check out this report in the Dallas Morning News.

INSTANT ANALYSIS: Georgia teams have to grind out victories, and upsets is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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