A Closer Look: In the Rain, Cold, and Snow

Another weekend filled with football for me – Lake on Friday, Mount Union on Saturday afternoon, Canton South Saturday night and the Browns Sunday – what a way to go!

Congrats to Lake and Massillon who move on and also to South for the great season they had. Mangreat plays and exciting things happened in both HS playoff games we broadcast but it is the Mount Union at Baldwin Wallace game I want to discuss. Not the final play that most every football fan in America has seen by now (If you haven’t, check it out – it is unbelievable), but what made it possible for that play to even occur, that I want to talk about.

The game was played in very bad weather conditions but the players fought through and I wouldn’t say the weather determined the outcome or even how the flow of the game went. Mount was up 17-0 going into the 4 th quarter when BW scored 3 straight TDs. Yes, Mount was up 17-0 at half and received the 2nd half kickoff. Another TD to push the score to 24-0 and the Yellowjacket players may have started thinking about intramural basketball. But BW’s defense played very well and continually got the ball
back for the offense which made every play possible to score for them to get back into the game. Hard running to pick up short yardage first downs, desperation passes under a heavy rush that seemed to land right in the receivers’ arms every time and even a defensive pass interference call in the end zone that allowed BW to score the go-ahead TD with just 22 seconds left – all of these things needed to happen for them to have a chance to beat Mount Union and they all did. Much credit goes to Baldwin Wallace for that effort.
Then as you may know, Mount completed 3 short passes and then threw a Hail Mary that bounced off a BW helmet and into the arms of a Raider receiver who stepped into the end zone with no time on the clock. The most amazing play I have ever seen and according to at least one sports writer, even crazier than the Cal-Stanford band game (Google it young folks). You might say why does Mount Union get all the luck – they have won enough – doesn’t BW deserve to win a game like this? You may have a point, but my point is BW did some things that allowed this to happen. Just like everything happening just as it HAD to for them to grab the lead after being down 17-0 in the 4 th quarter, certain things HAD to happen to give Mount a chance to throw the Hail Mary, and those things happened as well.

Let me explain. After BW scored the TD to go ahead with 22 seconds left, three Yellowjacket players performed an orchestrated celebration dance in the end zone and were flagged for a 15 yard misconduct penalty. Who cares right? The game is “over” – BW is about to be up by 4 points and Mount has to go the length of the field and score a TD, not just a field goal. But the fact is, those 15 yards due to the penalty allowed the Raiders to start their final drive 15 yards closer to the BW endzone. I’ll bet those three guys don’t think that celebration was such a good idea today.

Lastly, something unique had to happen for the Hail Mary pass to be successful – something crazy – and it did. The long pass was coming down at about the 10 yard line. Mount’s receivers were surrounding the landing point but not exactly at it – it appeared only a BW player could reach the ball. If the player knocks the ball to the ground, the game is over. But….the BW player jumped and tried to CATCH the ball. It hit his helmet, bounced all the way to the 1 yard line where a Mount Union receiver caught it and
stepped into the endzone. Tough breaks you may say – maybe a couple bad choices as well. I offer to you it was a lack of “poise” that cost BW the game. Mount Union’s team has been in big games, lost some and won most. BW was trying to get a giant win and a few players lost sight of the goal in favor of individual notoriety. The goal was to do everything possible for your TEAM to win, not to gain publicity for yourself. The endzone celebration was to draw attention to those 3 players, not the team. The attempted interception rather than a knockdown was to bring glory to that player, not secure a win to bring glory to the team. That may seem harsh but it is how young men learn lessons playing a game like football. For sure, the Mount players are not perfect and they no doubt have also made mistakes similar to what happened to the Yellowjacket players on Saturday. But this day, the team that retained their poise and kept the TEAM in the forefront of their thoughts and actions, won the game. Even when it looked impossible for the Raiders to win, they did everything they had to for a miracle to happen…and it did…for the TEAM.