Barlow breaths sigh of relief in win over Glencoe
|#9 Barlow (8-2)|
Barlow's defense had just turned away Glencoe's deepest drive of the night, and it was time for the Bruins to put this first-round playoff game to bed.
Glencoe would go kicking and screaming.
Barlow survived a wild fourth quarter, walking away with a 19-14 victory that wasn't decided until the final play of the night — a heave to the end zone that ended up in the arms of Bruins' cornerback Carter Baggs, while falling backward to the turf.
Trailing 19-0 in the third quarter, Glencoe put together its longest march of the game, moving the ball inside Barlow's 15-yard line. The Bruins' defense answered the challenge with Baggs breaking up a pass to the end zone, and linebacker Nick Collins stopping a fourth-down screen pass well short of the marker.
Barlow took its 19-point lead into the fourth quarter.
That's when things got interesting.
Glencoe was in the middle of another long drive when the team's switched ends for the fourth quarter. Crimson Tide sophomore running back Royce Fasel, a workhorse throughout the game, took a pitch around the left side to convert fourth-and-1. A few plays later, Fasel found his way through the middle to move the chains on third-and-short, falling forward inside the Bruins' 5-yard line.
Barlow was whistled for offsides, nudging the ball even closer to the goal line, and Glencoe QB Carson Wilson took a shotgun snap, darted around the backfield and found a seam into the end zone.
The Tide was on the scoreboard.
Glencoe's defense stopped the Bruins and got the ball back, but the comeback was on the ropes with the Tide facing fourth-and-6 in its own end of the field.
Fasel went in motion out of the backfield and never stopped. He turned upfield and found a hole in front of the Bruins' sideline. Wilson looped a spiral into the air, and Fasel was left with an easy catch and plenty of room to roam when Barlow's safety slipped down on the turf.
Fasel zipped 63 yards down the sideline, keeping a stride ahead of a pair of pursuing Bruins to shrink Barlow's lead to 19-14 with 4:53 to play.
Now, with the game in doubt, Barlow put the ball into the hands of its senior QB Jaren Hunter, who broke off a pair of runs to move the chains and take precious time off the clock. The drive stalled near midfield with an incomplete pass on third down.
After seeing his previous punt flutter of the side of his foot and out of bounds, Barlow's Jadon Morgan had his focus in tact for his biggest kick of the night — a tall 38-yard boot that left no chance for a return and rolled dead at the 15-yard line.
Glencoe had less than two minutes to travel 85 yards to the end zone.
The Tide kept their hopes alive when Wilson sneaked over the right side on fourth-and-1. A facemask penalty against the Bruins tacked an extra 15 yards onto the play.
Wilson hit Tyler Cox on a short sideline pass, except Barlow's Josh Nomie closed in fast and made the tackle in bounds forcing Glencoe to use its final timeout. The Tide had the ball on the midfield logo with 0:23 left.
"I wanted him to catch it, because I knew I could get there and make the tackle," Nomie said.
Glencoe tried a deep ball, but Nomie broke up the pass near the 10-yard line.
Next up, Wilson scrambled to avoid traffic in the backfield, reversing field before launching a tall pass toward the sideline. Fasel reached out and up to pull down the difficult catch for a 16-yard gain.
With time left for only one last play, Wilson took the snap looked to his right before scanning back to the other side of the field and looping a pass to the end zone before Barlow crashed the pocket. Cox was in the vicinity, but the desperation throw dropped directly into the lap of Barlow's Baggs as he fell backward into the blue turf of the end zone.
"We were just trying to move the ball, make clean plays and stop the clock," Wilson said. "That last play were wanted to get people into the end zone and hope for a miracle play."
Barlow (8-2) advances to play at No. 8-ranked Sheldon in the quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15.
The Bruins blitzed Glencoe with touchdowns on their first two possessions.
The first saw Nick Collins go over the left side to convert fourth-and-1, while moving the ball across midfield. The next play saw Hunter loop a perfect strike down the middle of the field, hitting Durham Sundberg in stride for a 46-yard touchdown.
"They came in aggressive wanting to jump routes," Hunter said. "I saw the opportunity pre-snap, I was able to put on a good enough fake to get the corner to bite."
"I was just focused on pulling in the catch before I started to celebrate," Sundberg said. "That was a big momentum burst, the team that goes ahead usually wins."
Barlow struck again when Nomie took a short pass and dodged seven white shirts on his way to a 41-yard gain down the visitor's sideline.
"I'm known for being shifty and making guys miss," Nomie said.
The scoring drive ended with Hunter sneaking through the middle from a yard out, and the Bruins took a 13-0 lead into the locker room.
Barlow returned to the field looking for more.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, the Bruins traveled 59 yards in five plays. Collins broke through the middle on third-and-1 without any resistance, then zigged to his right for a 32-yard pick up. On the next play, Hunter rolled to his left and hit Sundberg in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown and a 19-0 lead.
"Going up by three scores gave them a big margin to comeback from," Hunter said. "That touchdown to start the second half was a big moment."
Hunter finished the game 16-for-26 for 237 yards with Nomie as his biggest target with six catches for 109 yards — three of them going for first downs. Nomie had eight carries for 70 yards, while Hunter rushed nine times for 69.
The Bruins were without the services of all-league kicker Abi Hoffman, who didn't dress for the game after being injured in a girls soccer playoff match earlier in the week.
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This story is slated to appear in our Tuesday, Nov. 12, print edition.
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