Roughnecks stop Crusaders
With under two minutes left in the game, senior cornerback Max Kutch sealed the fate of the T.K. Gorman Crusaders with a game-ending interception to put the White Oak Roughnecks on top 49-38 at Roughneck Stadium last Friday night. What started off looking like a defensive showdown, turned into an offensive shootout.
Early in the fourth quarter, T.K. Gorman senior quarterback Jake Smith completed a 15 yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Daniel Schmitt to pull the Crusaders to a one possession game. A two-point conversion pass to tie the game to sophomore receiver Tyler Hobbs fell incomplete leaving the Crusaders with a two point deficit, 26-28.
The Roughnecks recovered an onside kick on their own 44 yard line with 10:53 remaining in the game. A nine play offensive drive ended with a 24 yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Connor Hearron that cushioned the Roughneck lead to a two possession game 35-26.
“I wanted to capitalize on the momentum we had started building that drive,” Hearron said. “I knew we needed to finish it off with a score before Gorman’s defense rallied and stopped us.”
The Crusaders launched an attack that only ate up two minutes off the clock. An 18 yard completion to senior wide receiver and Naval Academy commit Judah Bell put T.K. Gorman in striking distance to score. Five plays later, Smith found Schmitt from three yards in the middle of the end zone bringing the score to 35-32.
Needing to score again, the Roughnecks looked to their receivers to make plays. Junior receiver and former quarterback Kason Kienzle started off the drive with two catches getting the Roughnecks to the Crusader 46 yard line.
“The position [receiver] is different for me,” Kienzle said. “I wouldn’t say making the change was difficult. I’m really glad it’s working out and I really like the position I’m playing right now.”
The next play junior quarterback Heath Hood found senior wide receiver Brandon Cook for the deep touchdown pass to again give breathing room as the Necks pulled away 42-32.
With 4:52 remaining, the Crusaders again came storming back as they looked for Bell to convert on a very crucial 4th & 5 pass that went for 17 yards. Senior running back Ethan Milton took a draw play for 7 yards and an easy score to bring the score to 42-38 and a one possession game with 2:06 left in the game.
Trying to take as much time off the clock as possible, the Roughnecks threw a quick pass to Kienzle for negative yards but a five yard carry by Hearron put White Oak in a good position to get the first down on 3rd & 6 on the Crusader 49 yard line. Hood threw a screen pass to Cook that he took all the way to the house which seemed to put the finishing touch on T.K. Gorman’s hopes.
“It worked in my favor that I was able to put first half struggles behind me and focus on the task at hand,” Hood said. “Having a short memory helps whenever you play quarterback.”
With over 1,000 yards of total offense between the teams, the wide receivers took most of the work load. Kienzle had 10 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. Cook had 9 receptions for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns while Kutch had 2 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. Despite letting up 571 yards of total offense, Cook lead the team with 19 tackles a one TFL, followed by senior linebacker Chase Reeves with 16 tackles a three TFL and junior defensive end Elijah Trest with 15 tackles one TFL and a forced fumble.
White Oak takes on arch-rival Spring Hill next Friday at Panther Stadium with kick-off set for 7:30.