Wellington-Napoleon survives scare

By Thomas Huitt-Johnson The St. Joseph News-Press
Posted: November 7, 2011 - 11:24 PM

WELLINGTON, Mo. — Down by one at Wellington-Napoleon’s 1-yard-line, South Harrison looked poised to steal a win against the state’s top-ranked team.

Instead, Bulldogs quarterback Dylan Heitz ran up the middle in search of a go-ahead touchdown, but the ball popped out. With less than two minutes to play, Wellington-Napoleon came up with the ball and a 15-14 win in Wednesday’s Class 1 sectional at Wellington-Napoleon High School.

“We just came up short,” South Harrison coach Caleb Obert said. “We were rolling, had a lot of momentum, but we just stalled out. That’s something we had to learn to fix.” The two teams clashed in a turnover frenzy, and No. 1 Wellington-Napoleon (12-0) came away still unbeaten.

South Harrison (9-3) had several chances to win, but the Tigers defense wouldn’t allow any of them to succeed. Earlier in the fourth quarter, South Harrison moved inside the Tigers’ 10, but after a holding call and a sack, the South Harrison backed out of the red zone and missed on a fourth-down conversion.

The final chance only added to the frustration.

“We made some plays here and there,” Obert said. “They won; somebody had to win and we lost.”

To even have the opportunity to win seemed like a stretch at halftime.

Down 15-0 at the break, South Harrison’s offense looked flustered. Heitz had thrown three interceptions compared to just one completion, but it all changed when Heitz busted a 50-yard run to the Tigers’ 1. Two plays later, Heitz scored to close within nine, 15-6, after a failed two-point conversion try.

The very next play Wellington-Napoleon fumbled, giving the ball back to South Harrison.

Heitz came up injured on the next drive, and South Harrison faced a fourth-and-15 without its sophomore standout. That’s when senior wide receiver Cole Osborne stepped up and made his biggest contribution.

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