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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2007
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Penalties thwart Austin’s offense
Loss hurts Black Bears’ chances at playoffs

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com · 340-2460

MADISON — As time ran out in Bob Jones’ 21-4 victory over Austin, Black Bears coach David Norwood didn’t remove his headset until the clock neared zero.

With the victory out of his team’s grasp, Norwood could only watch the final seconds in disbelief

His team committed 10 penalties for 70 yards. His offense put up 203 yards against the Patriots (2-4). And now at 2-4 on the season, according to Norwood, the Black Bears need to win their next three games to have a shot at the playoffs.

“Offensively, we didn’t play well,” Norwood said. “We killed our drives and good football teams don’t do that. You can’t stop yourself.”

In the first half alone, the Black Bears had six penalties for 42 yards. Two holding penalties marred Austin’s first drive of the second quarter.

And near of the end of the first half, on a drive that started on their own 46-yard line, the Black Bears were hit with another flag for holding that stopped the drive.

“We had a lot of stupid penalties in the first half,” Norwood said.

Bob Jones wasn’t having better luck but made the Black Bears pay when it had the ball.

The Patriots struck in the first quarter on a 12-play, 57-yard drive that ended after a 1-yard rush up the middle by Trai Ragland, which put the score at 7-0 with the extra point.

While Austin’s offense was struggling, its special teams did a good job of pinning the Patriots deep.

After a the Black Bears put Bob Jones at its 3-yard line, a swarm of Austin defenders knocked Ragland into the end zone for the safety.

But the Black Bears couldn’t move the ball after they got it back.

The Black Bears were forced to punt, and the Patriots marched 74 yards up the field — aided by two Black Bears facemask penalties — and scored on Thad Everson’s 3-yard rush up the middle to put the score at 14-2.

In the second half, the Black Bears picked up another safety when Bob Jones punter Caleb Hicks couldn’t field a low snap in the back of his end zone.

After the free kick, the Black Bears drove to the Patriots 38-yard line but turned the ball over on downs.

“I thought we had a chance to do something,” Norwood said. “Any time you have two safeties you have a shot to score.”

Austin’s offense hardly was at full strength, with running back T.T. Mallard sitting out with a broken leg, which he suffered in the previous week’s game against Russellville.

Mallard sat on the sidelines in a wheelchair with his leg in a cast.

Austin quarterback Justin Jones was 14 of 26 for 99 yards, and D’Nico Best led the Black Bears with 41 yards rushing on nine carries.

Still, the Black Bears weren’t using Mallard’s absence as an excuse.

“It’s tough because he’s our go-to guy on offense,” Best said.

“The defense played their part, but the offense needs to step up.”

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