Plymouth Chases Down Huskies

By Dan Woodlock
Times-Junction Sports Editor

The Big Red are already getting a kick out of their new teammate, Gabriel Saez.

The junior foreign exchange student helped cap a thrilling comeback for Plymouth by booting the game-winning 27-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Big Red to wild 35-34 victory over Harrison Central Saturday night in Cadiz.

Having connected on his first two point-after attempts on the evening, Saez saw his third attempt sail wide at the end of the third quarter, keeping the game tied at 26.

But the closing minutes of the fourth quarter were all about redemption. Both for Saez and his Big Red teammates.

Touched for 384 yards, 16 first downs and 34 points, through three quarters and three plays---capped by a 35-yard touchdown run by the Huskies' Travis Stenson, his third score of the night, the Big Red (3-0) locked down defensively and forced Harrison Central into a pair of three-and-out series on their final two possessions of the game. Plymouth produced three sacks in those six plays, two by Trevor Arnold and the other by Tyson Beebe.

With 2:13 to play and sitting 59 yards from the endzone, quarterback Hunter Bailey directed Plymouth on an 11-play drive that advanced as far as the HC three-yard-line. He scampered five times on the drive for 26 yards and hit Tyrell Edmiston on a 23-yard pass play.

Harrison Central (2-1) also committed a costly defensive holding penalty on the series.

Bailey managed to get the ball spiked after a three-yard scramble with just three seconds remaining, setting up the opportunity for Saez to make his last kick count.

"His dad is a rugby guy, and I asked Gabriel, what would his dad do in this situation?" said Big Red Head Coach Mark Genders. "Would he want to kick it, or would he want someone else to do it for him?

"He looked at me and smiled and said, Okay, I got you, Coach," he added.

He split the uprights, sending the Plymouth sideline into a jubilant celebration on the field.

Trailing, 14-0, just four seconds into the second quarter, Plymouth found themselves fighting back all game."When we got down, I didn't care as much about the scoreboard as I did seeing our guys keep fighting out there, and they did to the last second," said Genders.

Harrison Central opened the scoring when Brandon Mitchell, who had a huge night in the receiving column with 10 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown, did more damage on the defensive side, intercepting a Bailey pass and returning it 70 yards for a touchdown.

Stenson, who ran for 88 yards on 24 carries for the Huskies, tacked on a conversion run for an 8-0 lead that held through the first quarter.

Mitchell pulled in a huge 30-yard reception on Harrison Central's ensuing possession, helping fuel a seven-play, 79-yard march that ended with a one-yard scoring run by Stenson. The extra-point kick failed, leaving the score at 14-0, just four seconds into the second quarter.

Zach Arbogast hit all three of his passes in the quarter for 56 yards and went on to complete his first 10 passes of the game, covering 155 yards. He would finish the game 16-of-23 for 239 yards and a touchdown.

The night started in the opposite direction for Bailey, who missed on his first four passes, including the interception. But he broke through in a big way with his biggest target.

He hit Edmiston on a 61-yard touchdown pass on Plymouth's first play from scrimmage in the second quarter. The hold on the point-after attempt was dropped, keeping the score at 14-6.

But on the first play of the next Big Red series, Bailey and Edmiston hooked up again from 61 yards for a touchdown, finished off by the extra-point kick by Saez.

Unfortunately for Plymouth, the scores came more than five minutes apart, as Harrison Central methodically put together a 10-play, 64-yard drive that ended with another one-yard scoring run by Stenson.

The Huskies carried a 20-13 lead into the half, but their match-up nightmare against Edmiston continued into the second half. After being stopped on their opening possession, Harrison Central yielded a two-play touchdown drive to PHS that tied the game at 20. Bailey hit Chance Butcher for a 33-yard pass play and then connected with Edmiston on a crossing route that he took into the endzone for a 20-yard score.

Edmiston ended the game with five receptions for 197 yards and three touchdowns.

The Big Red appeared to have stopped the Huskies on their next series, only to see punter Austyn Porter complete a fake punt pass to Kyle Roberts for 24 yards on fourth down. Arbogast went on to hit Mitchell on critical 20 and 14-yard pass plays, with the second producing a go-ahead touchdown.

The conversion pass failed, leaving the score at 26-20, Huskies.

Plymouth took advantage of a short field at the end of the third quarter, following a fumble recovery by Edmiston and his ensuing 11-yard return. Beebe completed a four-play, 10-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown blast.

"That's the most physical game we have played since the St. Paul game back in 2011," said Genders. "That's a tough, physical team we faced tonight, and our guys matched that."

The game looked to be slipping away from the Big Red early in the fourth, beginning with Stenson's long touchdown run (and Bryson Porter's conversion run for a 34-26 lead) and Tison Johnson's interception on the second play of Plymouth's next possession.

But the defense rose up and held the Huskies to negative-four yards on their final two series.

Plymouth pulled within two, 34-32, on a 10-play, 60-yard drive, with all of the yardage coming on nine running plays. Bailey scored from three yards out, but the conversion run failed.

The defense came up clutch again to give Plymouth a chance.

Bailey finished 8-of-18 passing for 258 yards. He also rushed for a team-high 78 yards.

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