It was a clash of orange black on the turf at CCBC-Essex Friday night as City College and host Eastern Tech squared off in the 2A East Region football championship game, but the colors of the night may as well have been black and blue based on the tenacity of the two hard hitting defenses on the field.
In the end, the game hinged on a pair of extra-point attempts – one made and and one missed – as Eastern Tech edged City, 7-6. The No. 4 Mavericks, the defending 2A state champs, now continue their quest to defend their crown as they advance to the 2A state semifinals next week. Tech will play at Middletown, which advanced with a 30-6 win over South Carroll, next Friday.
City broke on top on the game’s third snap from scrimmage as Da’Quan Smith scored on an explosive 53-yard run. On the play, Smith eluded three tackles in his own backfield, as he tried to sweep around right end, before cutting inside and racing up the middle of the field.
The ensuing extra-point attempt sailed wide left and, nearly four full quarters later, it would come back to haunt the Knights.
Still trailing 6-0, with 8:16 remaining in the fourth quarter, Eastern Tech took possession at the City 46 yard line. All night, City had been able to contain Tech’s strong running game and it was also able to keep quarterback Brad Hager’s air game in check.
But, knowing his team had to score to win, Hager drove the Mavericks to the City one-yard line and, with 2:40 left on the clock, hard-charging Marquiese Bannister plunged into the end zone from one-yard out to tie the game at six.
Hager hit Sayvon Norman for a 12-yard gain and Kenyon Crrawford had a big run, before Bannister carried the ball from the eight yard line to the one to set up the winning TD.
Mav kicker Kyle Bosserman calmly drilled the extra point through the uprights, and his kick turned out to be the difference in the game.
“I calmed myself down and tried not to think about it; I just focused; that’s what got me through it,” said Bosserman. “It was a perfcet snap, a perfect hold, and it couldn’t have went any better.”
Tech coach Marc Maseros said he got great efforts from Bannister, Crawford, Norman, Josh Cannella, and Nick McElfish. McElfish made a key interception with two minutes left in the game, and he was the snapper on Bosserman’s winning extra point. He took over the long snapper duties this week, on an emergency basis, following an injury. Norman stopped the Knights cold with his pick with 1:02 on the clock.
“I think all of our backs played well,” said Maseros. “He (Bannister) is a power back; he was hitting the hole pretty hard tonight.”
The humble Bannister gave all of the credit to his team.
“We prepare all off season, and we prepare every week for this,” said Bannister. I had to step up, and I’m thankful it turned out the way it did.”
McElfish said he knew that the Knights would go to number 18 (Charles Tapper).
“I just jumped him, the quarterback underthrew it, and I just jumped in.”
“It was a team effort,” said Norman, who praised Smith, City’s great running back. “He’s hard to bring down; an arm tackle wasn’t cutting it; we had to gang tackle him.”
Hager said he was at a loss for words.
“It’s so surreal.. Marquiese came through, the O-line came through, and that fourth and goal was just amazing.”
“Eastern Tech did a real good job, in the fourth quarter especially,” said City head coach George Petrides. “We did not capitalize, especially in the first half, on some field position when we should have scored.”
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|No. 4 Eastern Tech 7, City College 6|
|C-Smith 53 run (kick failed)|
|ET-Bannister 1 run (Bosserman kick)|