Cleveland Glenville overcame a rocky start and a two-touchdown deficit near the end of the third quarter to pull out a 26-22 victory against Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) William T. Dwyer.
Trailing by four points with less than a minute remaining, the Panthers (0-1) ran two quarterback sneaks from inside the Glenville 2-yard line. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett appeared to cross the line, but both times officials ruled him short of the goal and the Tarblooders (2-0) emerged with the victory.
As Glenville’s players leaped in the air in celebration near the Block “O’ at midfield, the Panthers stormed off the field.
“My thing is that we were blessed to win and I hope we grew up a little bit,” Glenville head coach Ted Ginn Sr. said. “We fought and that’s it. We’re always trying to get better.”
Playing in Ohio Stadium as part of the Kirk Herbstreit Kickoff Classic, the Tarblooders pulled ahead on a 29-yard touchdown rush by junior running back V’Angelo Bentley with 5:32 remaining, but then had to hold on during a furious finish.
The Panthers (0-1) faced fourth-and-10 from their own 20-yard line with 3:36 remaining when senior quarterback Jacoby Brisset found five-star tight end prospect Nick O’Leary down the left sideline for a 24-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
It was one of three fourth-down conversions on the drive. On the second, O’Leary again hauled in a pass and turned fourth-and-5 into a 15-yard gain with less than two minutes remaining.
With the Glenville fans on their feet, Brisset lofted a pass down the left sideline one play later, this time intended for senior Tommylee Lewis. Video replays on the scoreboard seemed to show that he caught the pass in coverage and came down in the end zone, but officials ruled him out of bounds.
The Panthers would go on to convert a fourth-and-1 on a quarterback keeper. A 10-yard run by Brissett made it first and goal from the 2 with less than a minute remaining, setting up the controversial finish.
“Emotions were going through my body,” said senior lineman Aundrey Walker, who was on the first play but not on the second after injuring his leg. “I thought we were going to lose. They’re a bunch of sore losers. We’re great guys, and the way that they (argued) wasn’t right at all.”
O’Leary played in Ohio Stadium under the watchful eye of his grandfather, Jack Nicklaus. The legendary golfer is an Ohio State alumnus.
A sloppy game that saw the teams combine to commit 19 penalties for 161 yards in the first half took on a decidedly different turn in the final moments of the third quarter.
With Dwyer nursing a 9-6 lead, the Panthers expanded their lead when O’Leary hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass with 2:18 remaining in the quarter. The point-after attempt failed, but Dwyer would waste little time cracking the scoreboard again.
On Glenville’s ensuing possession, a high snap went past quarterback Cardale Jones as he was lined up in the shotgun and recovered in the end zone for another Dwyer touchdown. This point-after attempt was good, and it was a 22-6 lead.
But when the Tarblooders looked to be on the ropes, senior Shane Wynn stepped up. The speedster took the kickoff up the gut, cut to his right and followed the sideline all the way to the end zone for an 83-yard touchdown. Jones’ two-point conversion pass was completed, and suddenly it was a one-score game.
“We take kick returns as a play,” Wynn said. “Some people take it as special teams, but we take it as a play so when I returned the kick I boosted the defenses’ momentum and we kept it going from there.”
Said Ginn: “I wouldn’t kick to Shane.”
One more special teams miscue gave Glenville a chance to knot the score in the waning seconds of the third quarter. With O’Leary back deep to punt, the snap sailed over his head and into the end zone. After O’Leary failed on his attempt to kick the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety, several players also failed to fall on the ball before Glenville’s Devonte Morgan was successful.
Just like that, the Tarblooders had a chance to tie the game. However, the conversion attempt failed and Dwyer still held a two-point lead.
Time elapsed: 94 seconds.
The Tarblooders earned the win despite being outgained 351-258.
“We’re 2-0, and that’s good for the kids and the team,” Ginn said.