A Tale of Two Halves
By Christopher Bond,
3:49PM, Thu. May 8, 2008
From the opening whistle, the Wranglers took the game to the South Georgia Wildcats in every aspect. The Wranglers scored touchdowns with ease, only allowing the Wildcats to score once, as they took a 21-7 lead. Then, as the second quarter got under way, the Wildcats took the momentum and powered back to tie the game at 35, scoring four successive touchdowns before the break.
It was an offensive first half, as receivers from both teams found the end zone. Andy Hall threw seven touchdown passes, to three different receivers, on the night as he continues to hit his stride in three games as the Wranglers starting quarterback. Hall threw four scores to Mel Long and another two to John Roberson. Roberson now has an impressive 15 receiving touchdowns this year as he is on pace for an All-Star season.
Roberson also made a highlight-reel catch that could be considered the catch of the year. As he started his route, he cut outside the defensive back toward the wall. Hall threw the ball in Roberson's direction, and with the defensive back all over him, he dove before slamming into the wall. The ball hit his fingertips, bounced off of the wall, and headed for the ground. That’s when Roberson, from his knees, dove again to catch the ball as the defensive back could do nothing. Roberson popped up and ran into the end zone for a score, leaving the defender in his wake. Impressive, to say the least.
As the second half got under way, there was renewed excitement in the stands when the Wranglers took the field. With the offense showing so much promise, there was a level of optimism not yet seen from the fans this season.
The Wildcats received the second-half kick off and returned it to the Wranglers one yard line, but fumbled, and Austin recovered. Several plays later, Andy Hall was sacked and fumbled the ball back to the Wildcats, who took advantage and moved the ball to the one with first and goal. With the fans behind them, the defense held firm to force a field goal. After an offensively potent first half, there were only 3 points scored in the third quarter.
That’s when things changed.
The Wranglers and Wildcats traded touchdowns to bring the score to 52-49. On the next kick off, South Georgia muffed the return, and the Wranglers pounced on the ball, sending the crowd into a frenzy. John Roberson then made another spectacular catch around the nine yard line, setting up first and goal for Austin. That is when he pulled what I refer to as the “Donovan McNabb” play. As he walked toward the huddle, he ripped his helmet off and lost his stomach all over the nice AstroTurf. The refs quickly called a timeout to check his condition. Roberson lost his lunch again and then returned to the huddle. I was wondering if he was seriously going to run the next play?
Roberson lined up on the left, with Mel Long on the right, as if nothing had happened. Andy Hall dropped back and threw a touchdown pass to Mel Long on the next play to put the Wranglers ahead 56-52 with one minute left to play in the game. The crowd went nuts! Everyone was high-fiving each other, and yelling encouragement to the team. Roberson was surrounded and patted on the back for throwing a block on the play.
All I could think of was that the Wranglers were for real. They wanted to win this game badly to salvage their season and it showed with the effort from the players.
The electricity was vibrant and the stands were shaking as the teams ran out for the kick off. It was evident the fans were behind the Wranglers showing approval for how much effort they were putting in. The Wildcats started their drive at the 10 yard line, after a touchback on the kick off. They marched the ball to about the Wranglers 15 yard line, and then called a timeout with three seconds left on the clock.
As South Georgia’s quarterback came back to the huddle, the noise was deafening. Fans were screaming and players were jumping up and down on the field as the excitement filled the arena. The Wildcats quarterback dropped back and fired a laser to a receiver in the end zone, for a touchdown, as the clock ran out.
You could hear a needle drop as the Wranglers players stood still in disbelief. They had played their hearts out, only to have them ripped out of their chests as time expired. Players dropped to their knees, fans had their hands on their heads, and the electricity turned to heartache.
As my father always said, “It ain't over till it’s over.”