November 7th, 2010

Seven OTs Needed To Decide AAA Champ

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Seven OTs Needed To Decide AAA Champ
photo by Chris Jung

Neutz scores six OT TDs to lead St. Gabriel over St. Patrick

History was emphatically made on Saturday, as St. Patrick and St. Gabriel took the record for longest game ever played in Toy Bowl history and collectively demolished it with a seven-overtime thriller at St. Xavier High School.

And when the smoke cleared, the steady stream of cheers finally subsided, and the bright sun that had been brightly shining all afternoon slipped behind the buildings on the St. X campus, only St. Gabriel was still standing after a 50-49 victory over the Celtics.

Prior to Saturday’s Class AAA affair, the longest Toy Bowl game on record only lasted three overtimes – not even half the length of this Leopards-Celtics game.

St. Gabriel’s Ryan Neutz scored in six of the seven overtime periods for the Leopards. The only time he didn’t score in post-regulation play was during the first overtime period when neither time found the end zone.

In the seventh and decisive overtime period, St. Patrick started on offense and got a touchdown from Larry Harper – his fourth during the overtime periods. On his point after attempt, Harper was tripped up and stopped short of the goal line, making the score 49-43.

Then it was St. Gabriel’s turn and Neutz wasted time tying the game, as the running back dove at the end zone pylon and stretched the ball across the plane for another touchdown. But the deciding points came courtesy of J.D. Berger, who dove across the goal line, sending his team into a massive on-field celebration.

Neutz, who scored the game’s final touchdown, also scored the first of the game with a two-yard run with 30 seconds to go in the first quarter. St. Patrick’s two-point kick failed following a bad snap, leaving the score at 6-0.

Larry Harper tied the game at the second quarter’s 4:26 mark with a two-yard touchdown run of his own. The Celtics were forced to start their extra point attempt from the 13-yard line due to an unsportsmanlike penalty for spiking the ball after a touchdown, and the play failed keeping the score tied 6-6.

Until the overtime periods, one of the game’s most exciting plays came when St. Gabriel quarterback Spencer Blackburn ran to the right for a two-yard touchdown as time expired just before halftime. Daniel Turner’s two-point kick attempt was tipped and fell short of the goalpost, giving the Leopards a 12-6 lead at the half.

With the third quarter winding down and St. Gabriel trying to increase its lead, Neutz fumbled and St. Patrick recovered, which led directly to a one-yard touchdown run by the Celtics’ Jacob King, making the score 12-12. Larry Harper’s extra point run would have given the Celts their first lead of the game, but he was stopped short keeping the score tied yet again.

With just over six minutes to go in regulation, things got interesting.

At the 6:09 mark, Blackburn was hit in the backfield during a St. Gabriel drive and fumbled the ball, which was scooped up and return to the Leopard 20-yard line by Emmanuel Harper.

Looking to capitalize on the turnover and possibly score the game-winning points, King was stuffed at the goal line on a 4th and 1 by the Leopards’ Nick Brands. But St. Gabriel was forced to punt several plays later – a 40-yard booming kick from Blackburn – pinning St. Patrick deep in its own territory.

St. Patrick then let off a punt of its own, but St. Gabriel broke through and Anthony Timmering blocked the attempt with 51 seconds to go in regulation, giving the Leopards the ball on the Celtic five-yard line. Similar to the rest of the second half, however, St. Gabriel couldn’t come up with a big play at the goal line, and the game was sent to overtime.

St. Gabriel won the coin toss prior to the first OT and elected to go on defense first. Both teams were given a possession that started from the opposition’s ten-yard line, but the Leopards and Celtics both traded lost fumbles, forcing the officials to move the ball to the five-yard line in the second overtime, per grade school football rules.

In overtime No. 2, Neutz found the end zone easily on the first play. St. Gabriel intended on trying a two-point kick, but committed a false start penalty on the play, pushing them back to the eight-yard line. St. Gabriel changed its strategy as a result, and Blackburn went for the run and was stopped.

On St. Patrick’s second overtime possession, the Celtics overcame a holding penalty with an outstanding diving catch from Emmanuel Harper, who laid out for a floating 11-yard pass from Larry Harper. Larry finished the drive with a one-yard run, tied the score at 18-18, and that remained the same after Andrew Bledsoe stopped Jacob King at the goal line.

This back and forth, match-for-match overtime craziness continued four more times until the No. 7 settled the contest once and for all. St. Patrick also got a touchdown from Ryan Murphy during the post-regulation action. Larry Harper, King, and Neutz combined for the remaining scores for both teams.

Following the game, an obviously-excited Leopards coaching staff spoke to their team and told the St. Gabriel fifth and sixth graders that, “you never quit on yourselves and you never gave up on your teammates….for that you should be proud.

The Class AAA instant classic was the ideal finale for a four-game Saturday that featured some fantastic football and an incredible turnout from a fan standpoint. While no official attendance figures were available, the stands were primarily full from 10:45am until the final play of the seventh overtime in the late game at approximately 6:20pm on Saturday evening.


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