Barlow storms back to down Mountainside
|#9 Barlow (10-2)|
It was a second-half drive that did not bring Barlow any closer on the scoreboard, but it did spark belief in the Bruins' ranks that led the team to a 20-16 comeback victory in front of a standing-room only crowd for Friday's 6A quarterfinal game.
Mountainside's Carlos Montero fought off tight coverage in the back of the end zone to haul in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Brian Mannion to give the Mavericks their first lead of the night 13-7 early in the second half.
Barlow looked to respond on its next possession — a 17-play march that was highlighted by seven consecutive runs into the middle by senior halfback Nick Collins. He picked up four first downs and had a long gain of 12 yards, as he pounded away at the Mountainside defense.
"If I was getting punished, I also knew I was punishing the defense," Collins said. "I told our coaches to keep running me, and they defense may not want to tackle me anymore."
The Barlow linemen were sending the same message to the sideline, pumping their arms after every play — a signal to continue the physical attack.
"We see the coaches giving it back to us, and we know we're going to keep running it," Barlow's Jadon Morgan said.
Ultimately, the drive failed to produce points, ending inside the 5-yard line when Mountainside's E.J. Broussard and Manny Ruiz chased down Barlow QB Jaren Hunter for a sack on fourth down.
But the blueprint for a comeback had been discovered.
"That was a momentum changer," Morgan said. "We saw that we could move the ball that way, and we knew we could do it again."
Mountainside took over and connected on a pair of long pass plays to move into scoring position itself. Barlow's defense answered the challenge with Dawson Northrup dropping Mavericks' back Broussard for a 2-yard loss, followed by Carter Baggs breaking up a pass to the end zone and a third-down catch coming down out of bounds.
Mountainside kicker Tyler Dahlback was good from 30 yards out, his third field goal of the night, to put the Mavericks on top 16-7 with 10 minutes to play.
"We were moving the ball, we just weren't converting in spots," Hunter said. "There was no panic with our guys, it just came down to big players making big plays."
Down by two scores, Barlow quickened the tempo and needed barely two minutes to travel 80 yards to the end zone. The scoring drive ended with Barlow lining up in a spread formation 14 yards out when senior Josh Nomie straightened up in the slot and pointed across the formation.
"He was telling me to watch for the ball," said teammate Jackson Kane.
Sure enough, Hunter took the snap and make a quick throw over the left side hitting Kane, who shed a couple tacklers before facing another wall of Mountainside white shirts. That is when he got some help with fellow receiver Carter Baggs coming in from behind and shoving him that last few yards over the goal line.
"It was an amazing feeling. Everyone was clicking on all cylinders," Kane said. "I don't think I get in without Carter pushing me."
The touchdown trimmed Mountainside's lead to 16-13.
Hunter hit all six of his passes on the scoring drive.
The Mavericks' were hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty on the point-after attempt, helping Barlow boot the kickoff into the end zone forcing Mountainside to start deep in its own territory.
The Bruins' defense forced a three-and-out when Evan Pugsley smothered a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage, and Nick Collins held his ground in the flat and pushed Mountainside's Andrew Simpson out of bounds well short of the markers on third-and-long.
Dahlback got a big roll for a 61-yard punt that flipped the field.
But Barlow ate up the green in a hurry.
Hunter dropped back on the first play and sizzled a pass over the right side. Durham Sundberg reached above his helmet to pull down the catch, then spun away from two tacklers tacklers and zipped down the sideline. Mountainside's Carlos Montero saved a touchdown with a diving attempt that knocked Sundberg out of bounds for a 60-yard pick up.
"Jared made a great third-level read, I was the only route on that play," Sundberg said. "I thought I had them beat, but my calf cramped up and I lost all my momentum going forward."
The next play went to Nick Collins up the middle. He appeared to be stopped for a modest gain only to emerge out of traffic and break through 26 yards to the end zone for the winning score with 4:31 to play.
"They didn't wrap up. All I felt were shoulder pads, so I made a spin and got all the way to the end zone," Collins said.
Mountainside's nest possession fizzled.
Confusion on the sideline prompted the Mavs to call a timeout before running their first play. False start and offensive pass interference penalties put them into third-and-long.
Barlow forced a punt when Pugsley hit Mountainside QB Mannion as he released the throw, which sailed deep into no man's land.
The Bruins ran the ball and exhausted Mountainside's timeouts before Morgan came on to punt from midfield. He came up with a perfectly-executed kick toward the sideline that prevented a return.
Mountainside started its final drive inside its 5-yard line.
The Mavericks moved toward midfield with running back Ty Adewumi converting a pair of fourth-and-1 carries.
Barlow's defense came up with the big play it needed when Pugsley chased down Mannion and flung him for a 4-yard loss.
"That was great because it kept the clock running," Pugsley said. "We wanted to get their mind off winning."
Two plays later, on third-and-long, Mannion fired a deep ball toward the home sideline. Baggs cut in front of the receiver, stretched out to snag the ball and dragged his feet to complete the interception.
"They had been running that wheel route all night," Baggs said. "I saw the QB staring him down, and I knew the ball was coming. I was close to the sideline, so I made sure to toe-tap to stay in bounds."
Barlow becomes the second team in school history to reach the big-school semifinals — the only other being the 1991 team.
"It's unbelievable," Hunter said. "Some great teams have come through before us, but this is a huge mark in Barlow football."
The Bruins take on league-rival No. 2-ranked Central Catholic at Noon on Friday, Nov. 29, at Hillsboro Stadium.
Barlow scored on its second possession of the game when Hunter went 7 yards through the middle bowling over a Mountainside tackler a yard deep in the end zone for a lead it would carry through the rest of the first half.
The Bruins kept the scoring drive alive when Hunter dumped a pass over the top of onrushing lineman Marlon Sawhill-Barrios, hitting Kane for a 10-yard gain on fourth down.
Hunter completed 16 of 24 passes for 221 yards with Kane being his biggest target with seven catches for 70 yards. Nick Collins carried the ball 17 times for 103 yards, picking up five first downs in the process.
Brothers Andrew and Nick Collins each pounced on fumble recoveries to end Mountainside drives in the first half.
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MOUNTAINSIDE 3 3 7 3 — 16
BARLOW 7 0 0 13 — 20
BAR — Jaren Hunter 7 run (Derek Fortanell kick), 5:15.
Drive: 5 plays, 24 yards, 1:42. Key plays: Andrew Collins fumble recovery; Jackson Kane 10 catch on 4th-and-3.
MTN — Tyler Dahlback 24 field goal, 1:46.
Drive: 8 plays, 61 yards, 3:29. Key plays: Carlos Montero 13 catch on 3rd-and-6; E.J. Broussard 41 run; Montero 13 catch.
MTN — Dahlback 42 field goal, 1:46
Drive: 8 plays, 54 yards, 2:50. Key plays: Mavs recovers fumbled punt, Carlos Montero 10 catch on 3rd-and-10.
MTN — Carlos Montero 23 pass from Brian Mannion (Dahlback kick), 10:15.
Drive: 1 play, 38 yards, 0:06. Key plays: Mavs fumble recovery.
MTN — Dahlback 30 field goal, 10:14
Drive: 9 plays, 65 yards, 2:58. Key plays: Andrew Simpson 40 catch on 3rd-and-8; Parker Groth 20 catch.
BAR — Jackson Kane 14 pass from Jaren Hunter (kick missed), 7:41
Drive: 9 plays, 80 yards, 2:33. Key plays: Hunter MacDonald 13 catch; Jake Fay 10 run; Jackson Kane 11 catch.
BAR — Nick Collins 26 run (Fortanell kick), 4:31.
Drive: 2 plays, 85 yards, 0:40. Key play: Durham Sundberg 59 catch.
Due to early holiday print deadlines, this story is slated for appear in our Friday, Nov. 29, print edition.
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