E.A. Sports Today

‘Just wasn’t our night’

Turnovers, missed chances hurt as Ohatchee ousted from 2A playoffs in matchup many considered unofficial state title game

Payton Stoner (7) gets behind Ohatchee’s Baylee Graham and catches a touchdown pass with 1.1 seconds left in the first half to give Fyffe the lead for good. On the cover, the Red Devils celebrate their first touchdown. (Photos by Greg Warren)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

FYFFE — Usually in a game of mega-magnitude, whether it’s a big regular season matchup or one some might consider the unofficial state championship, the team that makes the fewest mistakes or takes advantage of the most opportunities is the one that’s going to win.

When No. 2 Ohatchee looks back on Friday night’s 21-13 Class 2A quarterfinal playoff loss to No. 1 Fyffe, the Indians can point to it rnovers and missed opportunities as the culprit that kept them from advancing in a game that by most accounts they had the better of.

They certainly outgained the Red Devils (13-0) by a considerable margin, but a special teams break on the opening kickoff and a fumble and interception from deep in their own territory all led to Fyffe points in the game.

And then there were a couple dropped passes in key situations the Indians (11-1) wished they had back.

“It happens in football,” Ohatchee coach Scott Martin said. “The greatest backs fumble, the greatest receivers drop balls, the greatest quarterbacks throw interceptions; it just wasn’t our night tonight.

“I just hated that we came up on the short end. We made a few errors that we hadn’t made through the year. Those three turnovers against a good football team, you’re going to get beat.”

It looked like it was going to be tough night for the Indians when Ike Rowell returned the opening kickoff 84 yards setting up a 2-yard Zachary Pyron touchdown a minute and a half into the game.

But the Indians came right back and went 72 yards in eight minutes with Grayson Alward going the final two for the score to give his team the lead.

The Indians went 5-for-5 on third down on the drive, but didn’t convert another until the fourth quarter.

It stayed 7-6 until the last second of the first half.

Domonique Thomas’ first fumble of the season with 59.3 seconds left set up the Red Devils on the Ohatchee 22. A curious defensive holding penalty on a running play moved the ball inside the 10 and on fourth down with 1.1 seconds before halftime Pyron floated an 8-yard pass into the end zone where Payton Stoner ran past Baylee Graham to get to give Fyffe a 12-7 halftime lead.

“I’m trying to get out of the half with the lead and all of a sudden we find ourselves down 12-7,” Martin said. “In the first half we made enough errors and we’re only down 12-7, but I still think we should’ve been leading the game at halftime.”

The Red Devils came out a different team in the second half. They stopped Ohatchee’s opening possession of the half and then extended their lead to 18-7 when Rowell capped their first possession with a 1-yard touchdown.

Pyron, assuming the rushing mantle for injured Payton Anderson, broke off a 32-yard run on the first play and had 67 yards in the 70-yard drive. The Red Devils only had 44 net yards in the first half.

“It probably hurt that Anderson wasn’t in there, but I’ll be honest with you Pyron at quarterback … has been dynamite on all the films I’ve seen even when Anderson was in there. He has really come on and to only be a freshman says a lot about his upside in the future.”

Alward got Ohatchee back in the game with a 75-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

“That was a big confidence boost,” Alward said. “It got us back in it, got us thinking we could come back right there, but penalties and turnovers right there at the end messed us up and kept us out of it.”

Fyffe appeared to get another touchdown when Rowell intercepted Alward and ran it all the way back, but the score was negated by an illegal block. So, instead of getting more points, the Red Devils started on the 20.

The Indians kept them out of the end zone, but Brody Dalton, who missed one PAT and had another blocked earlier in the game, kicked a 23-yard field goal with 4:20 to ply to make it an eight-point game.

The Indians still had a shot to tie it. Alward got them near midfield, but playing with a presumed broken throwing hand for the last three minutes of the game, had four straight incompletions to end the comeback bid.

“I think the difference in the game is we didn’t execute on offense,” Alward said. “Our defense was working hard and we just couldn’t come back on offense.”

Fyffe 21, Ohatchee 13
Team stats Ohat Fyff

First downs 13 10
Rushes-yds 39-216 47-154
Passes 3-11-1 1-3-0
Passing yds 59 8
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Punts-avg 3-27.0 4-43.3
Penalties-yds 4-37 5-25

Scoring summary
Ohatchee 7 0 6 0 – 13
Fyffe 6 6 6 3 – 21

F – Zachary Pyron 2 run (kick failed), 10:34 1Q
O – Grayson Alward 2 run (Gage Harrell kick), 2:37 1Q
F – Payton Stoner 8 pass from Zachary Pyron (run failed), 0:01 2Q
F – Ike Rowell 1 run (kick blocked), 7:53 3Q
O – Grayson Alward 75 run (run failed), 0:25 3Q
F – Brody Dalton 23 FG, 4:20 4Q

Ohatchee’s Baylee Graham (10) puts a hard hit on Fyffe freshman quarterback Zachary Pyron. (Photo by Greg Warren)

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