October 9, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Scotland County football fans left Friday night's football game feeling cheated - and rightly so. A bad call by an official late in the game ultimately cost the Tigers the ball game. The Tigers appeared to have sealed a 17-12 win over arch-rival Clark County when on third down and long with less than two minutes to play SCR-I defensive end B.J. Houghton sacked the Clark County quarterback and forced an apparent fumble that was recovered by the Tigers. The referee stepped in after the play and ruled that the quarterback's arm was moving forward at the time the ball came out and thus it was an incomplete pass. You'd be hard pressed to find a handful of spectators in that entire stadium that would have agreed with the call and videotape proved that the quarterback's arm was down below his waist and was definitely not moving forward to pass when the hit came that forced the fumble.

Needless to say the entire Scotland County contingent was disgusted. It should have been the Tigers ball. But what most fans won't remember was that it was still fourth down and five. No doubt the team was dealt a bad hand. Unfortunately that's the way life goes. It was a terrible call, I'm not arguing that. What I'm saying is we shouldn't be crying over spilled milk. Sure we're all mad, but suck it up and make the next play and you still get the ball back and win the game.

However that was not the case as instead it was Clark County that stepped up with a great play that not only picked up the first down but went the distance for a score.

It was a great call, great execution by a sophomore quarterback who on the play before was rocked by the blitzer hard enough to fumble the ball, and a great run behind solid blocking to score the winning TD.

What we also forget is that the Tigers took over with a little over five minutes left in the game at midfield. The team had the chance to run out the clock or even put up another TD to build a cushion. But a series of silly penalties backed the team way up, stopping the clock with each yellow hankie and gave the Indians the ball back with an opportunity to win. Granted it took a bad call to make that happen, but just as that one bad call gave the team its chances, so to did some mistakes by our team. I'm not belittling our team or their efforts, something I try never to do. I'm just trying to make a case for why I tried not to belittle the official either.

Sure I wanted to run over and toss a few salvos at the referee as he ran off the field, but what good would that do? Would it make me feel better? Nope - we lost and I was going to have a sour taste in my mouth regardless. It definitely wouldn't change the outcome of the game. It probably would simply cause more problems for the official, who is human like the rest of us and does make mistakes.

Still it's easier to consider what could have been, what should have been instead of what was. The Tigers could have won the game and should have won the game - but they didn't. Yet, I didn't want to feel like a crybaby. I didn't want to take away from such a great game. Obviously we wanted a win, and arguably we deserved one. But we must take our hats off to both teams. These are high school kids who play their rear ends off out there. Sometimes we forget that. It's a game, someone has to win or lose. (Let's see what other sports clichés I can drop in here.) The Tigers - who if you read the Quincy Herald Whig sports page - no one expected to beat the Indians, gave it a great effort. Consider the fact that the team held one of the best running backs in the area to just over 70 yards despite missing several starters on defense with still others hobbling around playing hurt. They gave it their all and I'm proud of them. I don't want to tarnish their efforts by overlooking their performance to dwell on the one blown call. It stinks - we should have won - but we didn't so lets move on to next week and start gearing up for a run at another district title.

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