More heartbreak for City
MICHIGAN CITY — Oh no, not again.
First, it was Valparaiso, then it was La Porte, now it’s Homewood-Flossmoor.
Beaten on last-second passes twice last season, Michigan City had the bug bite them again on Friday at Ames Field.
On fourth-and-11, a scrambling Dominick Jones found Isaiah Stanback just inside the front corner of the end zone for a touchdown to give the Illinois Class 8A No. 4 Vikings a wild 33-30 overtime victory over the Wolves.
“I’m heartbroken,” City coach Phil Mason said. “It’s frustrating. I’m at a loss right now. You’ve got Michigan City taking one of the top 50 teams in the nation to overtime. I’m heartbroken because it’s happened three times. There’s no coaching clinic for that. It’s an unfortunate coincidence. We always talk about the football gods. At some point, they’re going to give us one. It’s going to fall our way.”
Ironically, the play came in a situation where Jones had struggled all night on the move. This time, he was on point, connecting with Stanback for an improbable ending to an improbable game.
“We worked on scrambling and looking down field,” H-F coach Craig Buzea said. “We were telling him all game, get the ball down field, people are wide open. It was fourth down, so (Jones) knew he had to make a play.”
It was an excruciating finish for a City defense that played well in large part, ceding scoring pass plays of 47 and 60 yards in the first half, when it fell behind 21-7.
“It’s killing us,” said Nate Ware, who had two tackles for loss and an interception. “They’re a great team. Our defense was incredible. Our whole team was ready. I don’t know. I guess we got too excited and got lost in the moment. Guys were chasing (Jones). I was trying to stay in my (passing) window. I don’t know if I could have gotten to him.”
City (1-1) took its first and only lead of the game on a 22-yard Riley Shreve field goal to start the overtime, though the Wolves had the ball on second down at the 4. They were also driving late in regulation, reaching the Vikings 24 before Bryce Hayman was picked off on the sidelines.
“We’re hanging our hat on our defense,” Buzea said. “They bailed us out.”
Big plays put H-F (1-0) up 14 at the half, the two long Jones scoring passes and a 32-yard Charlie Brooks scoop and score on a Hayman fumble. Unlike last year’s 63-21 finish, this one didn’t get away from the Wolves. Kam Muhammad scored from six yards at 8:02 of the third and less than two minutes later, Lyric McFarrin dashed 50 yards with a mis-hit punt to bring City within 21-19.
“That was an unbelievable play,” Mason said. “Lyric has savvy. He knows how to be in the right spot at the right time. We had some jitters early on. As the game went on, we made some nice adjustments in the second half. We had three touchdowns against a defense that has three D-I commits and probably is going to have a couple more.”
City tied the game on a 51-yard catch and run on a short timing pass by Zennon Wilhelm. Hayman then found Justin Wozniak for the tying two-point conversion with 7:42 left.
“We’re not even close to the team we were last year,” Buzea said. “But it’s going to take a very good team to beat them. There’s no discrepancy in talent. In fact, I think in some cases, especially the skills kids, they’re probably faster in a lot of areas. (Their defense) owned us up front. They stopped with mainly four guys. I won’t say we didn’t deserve to win, but there’s no question we got outplayed.”
For Mason, the latest bitter pill was easier to swallow, given the reaction of many of his players afterward.
“Kids are consoling me,” he said. “That’s what you want from your guys. They’re going to bat for each other. They’re gaining so much confidence in where we are as a program.”
Homewood-Flossmoor 33, Michigan City 30, OT
Bryce Hayman passed for 141 yards and a touchdown for the Wolves.