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SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2007
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Austin scores
last to win

Black Bears rally after surrendering lead in 4th quarter

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

HUNTSVILLE — David Norwood stood on the Austin sideline almost speechless. At the same time, his players were pleasantly stunned.

How could this happen? From a 14-point lead over Grissom with almost 10 minutes to play to a one-point deficit with 2:45, then a 34-28 victory? It was every cliché in the book. A victory snatched from the jaws of defeat sent back into the winners' grasp.

And as the band played the Austin fight song while students stormed the field at Milton Frank Stadium, Norwood, finally composed after about a minute of near pandemonium, did his best to explain the situation.

"I'm proud of my players maintaining their composure," Norwood said. "But that ballgame shouldn't have been close."

The win inched the Black Bears (4-4, 3-3 in Class 6A, Region 8) ever closer to the playoffs. Austin will take on Buckhorn next week. The Black Bears are tied for fourth, and the top four make the playoffs.

With 13.3 seconds left, Austin quarterback Justin Jones found Riley Howard in the end zone to seal the victory over Grissom (1-7, 0-6).

The play capped a five-play, 37-second drive that started from the Black Bears' 18-yard line.

It ended a wild game that seemed like an almost certain Austin victory, followed by an almost certain Grissom victory. The Black Bears struck with 9:55 remaining in the fourth quarter when Jones scrambled right and found Frederick Moore in the end zone. With the extra point, the scoreboard read 27-14, Austin.

Within the span of seven minutes, the momentum swung back. On the ensuing drive the Tigers needed five plays, capped by 48-yard pass from quarterback Drew Pope to wide receiver Ryan Reimers, to make it a 27-21 game.

Two plays later, Grissom cornerback Joseph Moore intercepted a pass at the Austin 37-yard line.

At one point on the drive, it appeared that Austin would stop Grissom. The Tigers had second and 25 from the Austin 39. But Pope hit Reimers on a 23-yard pass play, and fullback Connor Moore bulled his way to the first down.

Three plays later, Pope snuck his way into the end zone on a keeper to give Grissom the lead at 28-27 with 2:45 left.

Austin turned the ball over on downs with 1:09 remaining to play, but Norwood realized he hadn’t used all his timeouts.

He called all three timeouts after three consecutive Grissom victory formation plays. After Austin stopped Grissom on its last offensive play, the clock stopped when the ball was turned over to Austin, setting up the final drive.

“Well, that’s why you practice the two-minute offense,” Norwood said. “But it never should have gotten to that.”

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