Hornets comes up just short on homecomingPublished 10:39pm Saturday, October 5, 2013
For a few minutes Saturday at Memorial Stadium, it felt like Concordia College Alabama might pull off a miraculous comeback to win on homecoming, only two weeks after a bus fire left the team needing donations in order to get back on the field.
The Hornets, playing with equipment donated from all companies and organizations all over the country, rallied from 16 points down in the final 6:50 to even the score at 34-34 with Ave Marie Saturday, but the Gyrenes scored twice in the final minute to ruin any chances of a storybook ending.
“I am proud of the second half,” said Hornets head coach Don Lee. “What we told them at halftime was you have to have a sense of urgency. We didn’t have a sense of urgency coming out. This was a good one because we didn’t give up. We fought all the way to the end.”
When Hornets quarterback Jeremy Buffington threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Edwards-Maye with 3:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, Concordia pulled within two points. When Buffington threw to Teravious Mitchell for a successful two-point attempt to tie the game at 34-34, the Hornets seemed destined to pull off an incredible comeback win.
The Gyrenes had other plans. Quarterback Clayton Uecker marched his team 64-yards and Scott Jones scored on an 8-yard rush to give the Gyrenes a 41-34 lead with 51.4 seconds left. On the ensuing drive, Concordia’s Cameron Mayfield was intercepted by Tanner Bowling, who returned it 60-yards for a game-sealing touchdown.
Despite the loss, the Hornets made the Gyrenes earn the win after it appeared like a forgone conclusion early in the third quarter. The Hornets trailed 20-6 at halftime, so Lee reminded his players of the support the program has received from people all over the country since the charter bus fire Sept. 21.
“Most of the reason the spirit was up in the second half is I told them when we went in there is that there is a lot of people cheering for us,” Lee said referring to all the people who have shown their support of the program in recent weeks. “Don’t give up. Fight all the way to the end, no matter what the score is at the end and I’m proud of them because they fought all the way to the end.”
When Ave Maria quarterback Clayton Uecker threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Karim Bryant with 13:18 left to give the Gyrenes a 27-6 lead in the third quarter, the game seemed over.
But, Lee’s message seemed to have fired up his team.
Three plays later Concordia’s Matthew Rowser broke a 50-yard touchdown run to bring the Hornets within 27-12, following a failed two-point try.
Four minutes later, Concordia scored again when Rowser broke a 44-yard run to bring the score to 27-18, after another failed two-point try.
Ave Maria looked unfazed by the Hornets resurgence, marching the ball 68 yards in less than three minutes and scoring on an 8-yard rush by Jones to bring the lead back to 34-18 with 4:05 left in the third quarter.
The game remained at that score until Mayfield threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to David Hampton to bring Concordia within 10. The Hornets finally broke through with a successful two point-conversion as Mayfield threw to Edwards-Maye to make the score 34-26, bringing the Hornets faithful to their feet.
On the Gyrenes next possession, the Hornets Devontae Beach intercepted a pass thrown by Uecker to give Concordia the ball at the Ave Marie 38-yard line with 5:11 left to play. On a crucial fourth down at the Ave Marie 32, Mayfield ran for a first down but was hit late, resulting in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty.
Mayfield was injured on the play — although he returned later — so Buffington relieved him, throwing a 12-yard touchdown pass to Edwards-Maye on his first play to bring the Hornets within 34-32.
After the successful two-point conversion, Concordia had all of the momentum in the game, but the Gyrenes seized it back quickly.
Jones’ fourth score of the game gave Ave Maria the lead and Bowling’s interception sealed the victory, ending any hope Concordia had of stealing the game late.
The first half was a lot less eventful, but it ended up having a huge impact on the final result. Concordia had the ball in the redzone twice in the opening half, but the Hornets were held without scoring.
Also, following a missed extra point following the Hornets first score of the game, Concordia did not attempt another extra point.
“In the first half we were in 10-and-in two times and couldn’t score,” Lee said. “We should’ve been able to score two times. We left 14 points there.”
Concordia plays Arkansas Baptist in the Cross Road Classic at Prichard Oct. 12.