Penalty costs A-J in 14-13 loss Friday at Du Quoin
To say the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team left it all on the field last Friday night would be an understatement.
The Wildcats fought from behind and appeared to go ahead in the waning seconds on a conversion run before a penalty gave host Du Quoin a 14-13 victory.
“It’s very frustrating to lose like that,” A-J coach Brett Detering said. “I feel badly for the kids, they played very, very well. I told the kids all week long they would be in a heavyweight fight. And, they put themselves in a position to win it.”
After scoring and trailing by one point with 9 seconds remaining in the game, A-J quarterback Bryce Osman connected on a 1-yard pass to Caleb Clover for the conversion points. However, the play was nullified on a Wildcat holding penalty.
“Unfortunately we were not able to get it in the end zone,” Detering said. “It wasn’t a late flag. I don’t like to be critical of the officials, but they should be absolute on a call. It looked like it was in there. I hate to focus on one play like that, but’s that’s the one everyone will remember.”
Detering said he never observed the penalty and looking at the game film later it wasn’t observed either.
The Wildcats were backed up then and Sheldon McGrath’s game-tying 29-yard extra point kick was off the mark.
“He pulled it a little and it was wide left,” Detering said. “The kids heads were down, but I told them one guy doesn’t lose a game. We win or lose as a team.”
Trailing 14-7 late in the fourth quarter, Clover made a nifty punt return to get the A-J offense rolling.
Driving the length of the field after a 12-play drive, Clover pulled the Wildcats within 1 point with his apparent go ahead conversion point score.
While the Indians scored both their touchdowns in the second half, the Wildcats scored in the first half to go ahead early in the contest.
The A-J defense stiffened in the opening quarter and stopped Du Quoin at its own 19-yard line on a fourth down incomplete pass.
After both teams traded punts, the Wildcats offense began rolling.
Turner capped a 7-play drive with a 11-yard TD run. McGrath’s extra point kick put the Wildcats ahead 7-0 with 11:04 left in the second quarter.
“The first half we had good field position and our defense did a great job,” Detering said. “We had some good defensive stops.”
After being held scoreless in the first half, the Indians scored twice in the second half.
On its opening drive, Du Quoin fullback Zayne Fornear scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 9-play drive. The extra point kick tied the game 7-7 with 7:35 remaining in the third quarter.
In the final quarter, Indian quarterback Caleb Vogel connected with Devin Jones for an 8-yard TD pass following a 9-play drive. The extra point kick put the Indians ahead 14-7 with 5:24 remaining in the game.
“We had completely busted coverage,” said Detering of the TD.
Trenton Turner led A-J’s 160 yard rushing attack with 65 yards in 15 carries.
“Trenton has been battling a leg injury this season,” Detering said. “He ran well for us.”
Osman rushed for 43 yards in 11 carries. Clover had 26 yards on 5 carries and Jaycee Turner had 22 yards in 7 carries.
“I would have liked for us to pick up some more yardage,” Detering said. “But, it was a typical tough defensive Du Quoin team.”
Osman was 3 of 6 passing for 37 yards with an interception.
“I thought our kids played well against them,” Detering said. “I didn’t notice anything special the way they played. Our game with them last year came down to the end, too.”
It was Senior Night for the home team and former Du Quoin player and present Southern Illinois University Carbondale football coach Nick Hill had his jersey retired at halftime.