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Cards unkind to NC in 12-6 OT loss

Posted: August 24, 2013 1:13 p.m.
Updated: August 26, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Louis Clyburn could only shake his head and try not to laugh as he saw the torso of William Jenkins laying in the end zone with the football.
What looked to be the game-tying score in North Central’s 12-6 overtime loss at Cardinal Newman on Friday was a play in which the game officials ruled that the Knights’ junior tailback did not make it past the goal line on a fourth and goal carry from the two.
That play came after Cardinals’ receiver Evan DuBois was ruled to have caught the ball in the end zone by the officials despite the NC bench’s cry that DuBois was a yard or two beyond the field of play in the game-winning score on the hosts’ first snap of the extra session. After a lengthy meeting, following one official saying the catch was made out of bounds, the call stayed as a touchdown.
It was a strange, if not a controversial beginning to the season for the Knights.
“I told our kids after that game that we have no excuses,” said Clyburn, now in his fifth season at the NC helm. “We had our chances to win this game; we’re not going to blame the officials. Other than (the two calls in OT), they did a good job.”
Playing minus three injured starters on the offensive line, including their starting center, the Knights had ample opportunities to put this one away before going into the extra session. There was a botched snap from center on a second half snap which turned a second and goal from the five into a third and goal from the 26. There was another fourth down play in the red zone in which a pair of first-year starters at receiver got the play mixed up as the guests came up empty.
Those mistakes are ones which Clyburn said can be corrected and should not take away from the effort which his young squad put in against a CN team which dealt the Knights a 49-14 loss a season ago and returned 19 starters from that unit.
“Our kids played hard; they spilled their guts out in this game,” Clyburn said. “But we are past the point of being satisfied with a close loss.”
Coming into the game, the Knights wanted to make the hosts one-dimensional on offense. They did that in silencing Cardinal tailback Zakki Parker. Holding the college recruit in check forced CN to throw the ball and the SCISAA entry did that in taking a 6-0 lead in the second quarter with quarterback Cole Halverson spotting Stefone Brown with a 14-yard scoring pass on a slant pattern for a 6-0 lead which stood into the latter stages of the fourth quarter.
“We stuffed (Parker) pretty well,” Clyburn said of his defense which turned CN back after they were backed up at their own 25 following the Cards’ blocking a first half punt. “If they were going to beat us, they were going to do it by throwing the ball. They hit us with a pair of long passes, but not much else. We also dropped three possible interceptions.”
As for the NC offense, which was directed by junior signal-callers Hunter Wyant and Jenkins, the Knights made two trips deep inside Cardinals territory in the first half. The most serious threat came on fourth and goal from the six when CN blitzed and two NC receivers ran the wrong route on a bootleg. Rather than taking the chance of throwing an interception, Wyant had little choice but to run the ball only to be dragged down at the two.
Playing it close to the vest, Clyburn said this was the first time in his tenure that the Knights attempted less than 20 passes in a game. Splitting time between quarterback and running back, Jenkins rushed for 166 yards on the night.
The NC ground game wore down the large Cardinal defense and that strategy paid off as the game went on. The Knights finally cashed in after taking over from their own 25, via a punt, with some five minutes left in the game.
With Jenkins getting the majority of the carries, along with a pair of runs from Antonio Parks, the Knights chewed up both yards and the clock before Jenkins capped the drive with a six-yard burst into the end zone with less than two minutes left. The Cards blocked the PAT try, keeping things knotted at 6-6.
Using a face mask call against the visitors, CN marched to the Knights’ 40 with a 1:40 left in regulation, but could not get the game winner before time ran out.
“We did a good job of controlling the football, especially in the first half,” Clyburn said of a game in which his team lost a fumble in CN territory, had a blocked punt and a bad snap among its troubles.
“With three guys missing on the offensive line and Mathew Sowell playing the entire game with an injured groin, most of our defensive lineman had to play both ways. John Bowers played real well at tight end, helping keep Warren Moseley fresh to play on defense.
“We’re still learning, though. We worked with a senior-dominated team last year and we have a lot of young kids this year. They’re going to learn from this game and, we’ll get better.”

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