Hobart stops Apache, 21-20
APACHE - Hobart coach Colt Allison didn't necessarily wear a look of satisfaction after Friday's game.
It was more a look of relief. Or more accurately, it was the look of a man whose team, for the third time in just over a year, provided a heart-stopping finish to a football game, needing a fourth quarter comeback and a blocked field goal to top Apache, 21-20, at Chandler Field.
Down 20-14 with less than four minutes left in the ballgame, the Bearcats (3-0) did what they had done throughout the fourth quarter. The offensive line opened holes and running back Josh Molina ran through them, with devastating results. Molina found running room and took off on a 62-yard touchdown run, his second touchdown run of 55 yards or more in as many carries.
The extra point, rarely a guarantee in small-school football, was converted by Luke Hollister and Hobart had its first lead of the game with 2:42 left.
But Apache (2-1) played loose and free, just as they had all night. Jacob Flores returned the kickoff near midfield. Quarterback Landon McCracken led the team down the field and got them into the red zone with less than 30 seconds left. The Warriors lined up for a 27-yard field goal by McCracken with eight seconds left. The Hobart defense responded, though, rushing through the line to block the kick and seal the victory.
Hobart had needed a dramatic finish in the 2016 opener against Stratford and came back from two scores down in the first round of the playoffs to beat Coalgate. For Allison, the win against Apache was rewarding, but not necessarily easy on the heart.
"They're making an old man of me," Allison said of his players. "What a tough, fun game. Apache is tough. Hats off to Apache is tough. Hats off to them."
The offensive line drew praise from both coaches. Apache coach Larry McDaniel said it was likely the best offensive line his team will play this season. Allison said that he was proud of his line's effort and happy for Molina for reaping the benefits.
"Tonight was just Josh Molina's night," Allison said. "We just had to put the rock in Josh Molina's hands and man, he paved the way for us. Did great."
The first half was a slugfest of the highest order. Both teams were able to build some momentum on offense but neither team was able to capitalize. Apache drove to the Hobart 5-yard-line with less than a minute to go, but McCracken's third-down pass attempt was intercepted by Molina in the end zone, killing the drive and sending the teams to the locker room with no score.