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Monday, December 2, 2013
Blue Devils stand tall in State Finals
Despite falling behind early on a 20 yard touchdown pass from the Panthers Nick Pipolo to Matt Garcia, the Blue Devils showed no quit. Having made it to the State Semifinals the year before and losing, this year's team was going to finish what they started.
As he's done all year, Isaiah Zimmer evened the game up on a 1 yard TD play set up by the previous run of LJ Watson. With the game tied, Forks had a chance to take the lead, they did so through the air. JC Sweeney and Andrew Ziegenfus have connected on monster plays all season long, so it's only fitting that they did it one last time in the State Finals. A 30 yard bomb that Ziegenfus had to use all of his 6'4" frame to reel in over the defender and lunge into the endzone, gave the Blue Devils a second quarter 14-7 lead.
But the seven point lead would be short lived. How short? The ensuing kick off, returned 88 yards by Ryan Morningstar. The Panthers set back on the PAT by a penalty and with the added yardage decide to go for two, but fail to convert. So while the lead was cut down, it was still 14-13 Forks.
The Blue Devils though, would extend their lead in no time. Zimmer getting the call again, a 7 yard run for #45 and Forks was back on top 21-13. But with 43 seconds left and the Panthers inside the ten, Pipolo tossed it up to Jakob Calvini who made the circus catch for the touchdown. Trying to even things up, the Panthers go for two and covert. So, we take a 21-21 game into the locker room.
The second half, much quieter in terms of scoring, but twice as thrilling. A back and forth 3rd quarter with no scoring brought us to the edge of your seat final frame. Zimmer earning his MVP award in style, takes the lead on a 7 yard touchdown, 28-21. Zimmer finished with 39 carries, 175 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
But with just over four minutes remaining on the clock, the Panthers strike once again. Jake Sevean with the catch from Pipolo, a 9 yard pass to draw within one. Rye Neck going for the win and going for two, but opting for the run, Forks run defense doing what it's done all year and getting a huge stop on the 2-pt conversion attempt. But there was plenty of football left to play.
In the final ten seconds, Blue Devils with possession, Zimmer finds a hole and takes it 32 yards for the score and the clincher. But wait, an illegal shift calls the touchdown back, Zimmer said afterwards he went from excited to frustrated in a matter of seconds. But, that's part of the game. So with seven seconds left and on 4th down, the Blue Devils turn the ball over on downs. Rye Neck with the clock reading 0:02 go to Pipolo's arm, but he never released the ball. The Blue Devils all over him in the backfield getting a sack to secure the first State Title in nine years.
For Head Coach Dave Hogan, it was all smiles as he expressed how proud he is of this team, never giving up and working hard all year long. When asked how it feels for him personally, taking home his first state title as a head coach (he was an assistant in '03 and '04), he says "Wow, I haven't really even been able to think about that," and his mouth widens to a ear-to-ear grin.
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