The Independence Patriots junior varsity football squad faced an uphill battle on Wednesday evening when the Patriots traveled to Myers Park to face the Mustangs in a game featuring two teams as evenly matched as possible. Independence (3-0) came out the victor edging Myers Park (3-0) 34-28 on a 34 yard touchdown pass with no time left on the clock to stay undefeated and improved to 4-0 on the season while the Mustangs dropped to 3-1.
After taking the opening kickoff, the Patriots could not move the ball and had to punt. On Indy’s punt Myers Park tipped the ball, and the Mustangs recovered the tipped kick taking over on Indy’s 38 yard line.
Myers Park drove the ball down to Indy’s two yard line. With the Mustangs looking at fourth and two from the two yard line, Myers Park ran off tackle and was stopped by the entire Indy defense for no gain giving Indy the ball back on their own two yard line.
On Indy’s first snap from center, the ball sailed over quarterback Davyne Simpson’s head into the end zone. Simpson got to the ball to prevent a touchdown but was tackled in the end zone for the safety. Myers Park took the lead 2-0 with 5:09 left in the first quarter.
After the safety, Indy had a free kick from their own twenty yard line. The Mustangs ran the kick back to Indy’s nine yard line. The Mustangs scored on the next play to make the score 9-0 with 3:04 left in the first quarter.
On Indy’s next possession Simpson dropped back and connected with Earl Cameron for a 60 yard touchdown pass making the score 9-6. Indy missed the two point conversion and the score remained 9-6 as the first period ended.
Late in the second quarter the Mustangs got back on the scoreboard on a 22 yard run to make the score 15-6 with 3:29 left in the first half.
The Patriots answered with a 52 yard touchdown pass from Simpson to Cameron. After the score, Simpson found Taejuan Smith in the end zone for the two point conversion pulling Indy within one 15-14 with 2:19 left in the first half
The Mustangs battled back driving the ball down the field and then hitting a Mustang receiver for the touchdown with only six seconds left in the half. The point after was good and Myers Park took a 22-14 half time lead.
In the second half there was no action until late in the third quarter. Indy’s Davyne Simpson ran the ball in from the 25 yard line to make the score 22-20. Indy lined up for the two point conversion. Simpson’s pass to Cameron was complete tying the score 22-22 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
Myers Park took the kickoff and started a drive, but Indy’s Omar Zazueta intercepted a Mustang pass giving Indy the ball on their own 38 yard line as the third quarter ended.
In the fourth quarter Indy took over with 5:45 left in the game. On what appeared to be a busted play, Simpson took the ball and weaved his way through Myer Park’s defense running 70 yards for the score to put Indy in the lead for the first time 28-22. Again, Indy went for the two point conversion but the Mustangs held.
With 1:15 left in the game, the Mustangs threw a 55 yard touchdown pass to tie the score 28-28. However, the Mustangs were penalized for excessive celebration moving the ball back to the 28 yard line. Myers Park’s pass into the end zone was broken up but Indy was called for pass interference which moved the ball to the nine yard line. Myers Park lined up for the extra point which was wide right keeping the score tied at 28-28.
After Myers Park’s kickoff, Indy started at their own 28 yard line with 1:05 left in the game. Indy’s first play was an incomplete pass which made it second down and ten with 46 seconds left in the game.
On Indy’s next play Myers Park intercepted Simpson’s pass and took possession on Indy’s 35 yard line with 23 seconds left to go.
The Mustangs quarterback took the ball around the left end and was forced out of bounds on Indy’s 21 yard line with 9 seconds left on the clock. The Mustangs went for the end zone, but Indy broke up the pass leaving 5 seconds remaining in the game.
Myers Park called their last time out to set up a final play, which was a pass to the right side of the field. Indy’s Shai Wheeler came up with the interception and returned it for 60 yards before Myers Park brought him down. After the tackle flags covered the field. Myers Park was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with no time showing on the clock.
By rule, the game cannot end on a defensive penalty. This gave the Patriots one untimed down on the Mustangs’ 34 yard line.
With no time remaining, junior varsity coach Brad Van Horn sent in the play to his quarterback Davyne Simpson. Simpson took the snap dropped back and hit Shai Wheeler in the end zone for the winning touchdown.
Simpson said, “I was thinking just one thing. I got to get the ball into the end zone for us to go to 4-0. And the o-line gave me time to get the pass off.”
Asked about the catch Wheeler said, “I knew I had to get open to make the play and the pass was there.”
Coach Van Horn added, “We just decided we had to get the ball to one of our best players and it worked out. We got lucky. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. We didn’t have a running back this week and a lot of guys stepped up and made some adjustments in a lot of situations. And it paid off. The fact that we have a lot of sophomores playing really helped. I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”
The junior varsity moves to 4-0 and will travel to Hickory Ridge High School next Thursday for another conference game.
Independence 6 8 8 12 – 34
Myers Park 9 13 0 6 – 28