BACK FROM THE DEAD
This site petered out a couple years ago when I worked on the coast for NNB shortly after they got themselves a "real" website (only about 10 years after the rest of the uncivilized world of radio).
Never a big blog guy, I was using it as a resource for "real" journalism until the real thing came along. When it did, I tried doing the blog thing while writing the straight articles for the website but found time and inspiration waning.
I've been not so subtly motivated to resume activity thanks to my buddy Denmark Daniels. With his knowledge and assistance, we created what is turning into a YouTube sensation--forever to be known as "The Miracle On Grant Street".
Hillsboro defeated Glencoe 26-21 Friday night at Hare Field on one of the most exciting Hail Mary passes I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing--in person, on T.V., high school, college, NFL, you name it.
Here is the clip if you have yet to view it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mfl6jX5or6k
We've all seen Hail Mary finishes, the most recent of note being Brett Favre's toss to Greg Lewis just last week. But, what made this special--other than the fact that a high school senior threw a ball farther and prettier than 1/3 of N.F.L. QB's could do on their best day--was what led up to the final spectacular catch.
Hillsboro quarterback Dominique Mims was primed to be the goat in this game. Beaten badly on a 86-yard pass and catch that led to a Glencoe TD earlier in the game, Mims again failed to make a play defensively that would have ended this contest and sent the Spartans on to a sure victory over their crosstown rivals.
With Hillsboro leading Glencoe by a touchdown 20-13 with 2:27 to play, the Tide began a drive on their own 7-yard line after a beautiful coffin corner punt by the Sparts' Steven Lundin.
The drive appeared to be dead before it started after a 1-yard run by Kyle Cameron and a loss of three yards on a fumbled snap, one of a number of failed exchanges on the night.
But, on 3rd and 12, Glencoe quarterback Tanner Apeland threw a pinpoint pass to Derrick Elford for a 26-yard gain and a first down. After completions of 13 yards to tight end Kory Kirwan and a 15-yard strike to Elford, Apeland again looked for Kirwan on the right sideline. Mims stepped in front and nearly hauled in the underthrown ball with one hand along the sideline but could not make the pick.
After a 12 yard scramble by Apeland gave Glencoe a first down at the Spartan 28-yard line, the Crimson Tide reached into the trick bag. Apeland handed the ball off to Cameron who looked downfield for an open receiver finding no one. With a defender closing in, Cameron unloaded a wobbly dead duck up for grabs, seemingly gift-wrapped for one Dominique Mims.
With no one around and all day to make the play, Mims inexplicably left his feet, then bobbled the ball twice, keeping it alive long enough for Elford to recover and pluck it from the air at the HilHi 2-yard line.
Glencoe had only one time out left, so a Mims interception would have essentially ended the game as the Tide would not be able to keep the clock from running out. Instead, they hustled to the line of scrimmage and Apeland clocked the ball with 29 seconds left, setting up a Cameron run into the end zone.
Both teams had missed PAT's earlier in the contest, with Glencoe's failed try finding the long arm of a leaping Colt Lyerla. The 6-5 Spartan junior is rapidly becoming one of the nation's top recruits with a combination of superior athleticism and relentless hustle. Fearing a reprise, the Tide coaching staff called for a fake PAT that worked to perfection. With a quartet of Spartans caving through the middle of the Glencoe line, Tide holder Joseph Duvall pulled up and rolled left finding an open Kirwan in the end zone for an apparent go-ahead 2-point conversion. After a few tense moments to sort out a penalty, Glencoe celebrated a gutsy call and what looked to be a 21-20 win.
The penalty for illegal participation cost Hillsboro 15-yards on the kickoff, moving the ball to the Spartan 45. Decision time again for the Tide coaching staff, which had wisely kicked the ball away from the dangerous Lyerla all night long. Kick short again on the shortened field giving Lyerla a better chance of finding the ball or try to kick long and get the ball into the end zone for a touchback.
The Tide kicked short and nearly recovered the ball as it glanced off the hands of Tyson Fernstrom and seemed to land between two Glencoe players. But, Hillsboro's Austin Bradley somehow won the battle in the pile and recovered the loose rock at the HilHi 25-yard line with 19 seconds left.
Mims, who possesses a cannon for an arm, loaded up on the first down play and got early pressure. Scrambling away from a potential sack, the athletic senior found himself in a broken field, making his way to the 39-yard line before he was upended on a time-consuming play.
Time out. Six seconds left. Time for one more play. Mims has a gun, but no way the 6-1 senior could throw a ball all the way to the end zone. Right?
He nearly did, but he didn't have to.
Lyerla, who had already put his impressive stamp on this game with 192 yards rushing, two touchdowns and a bushel full of defensive plays, lined up wide on the right sideline. He exploded off the line like a sprinter out of the blocks at the snap of the football, using all of his 4.6 speed to race downfield. Mims rolled to his right and fired a majestic, parabolic, tight spiral more than 60 yards in the air into the waiting hands of Lyerla. A renowned leaper, Lyerla never had to leave his feet as he backed his way into the end zone, falling across the goal line, setting off a wild celebration that saw a storming sea of Spartan blue and white wash over him like a human tidal wave.
The image will live on forever in the minds of both Spartan and Tide followers and those lucky souls who ventured to a packed Hare Field in hopes of seeing a glimpse of a future star or an entertaining battle between two top teams and fierce rivals. Colt Lyerla, whose star exploded on the college recruting scene this summer with record-setting performaces at key combines, has gone from intriguing young athlete to hot prospect to superhero in the span of a few short months. Dominique Mims will surely attract some interest from college recruiters who will slobber over a mobile athlete with a howitzer.
And now, how did that image make its way onto your television sets on SportsCenter?
Following the contest, I noticed the Hillsboro video coordinator, Dave Hill, working with a laptop in the adjoining room. Still buzzing from the game, I wanted to see the video shot of the final play and had a notion that it might be compelling enough to warrant viewing on a national scale. Boy, was I right.
Hillsboro takes its video very seriously, collecting game film from three different cameras located in the press box, sideline and end zone. It was the press box shot, taken with a high-definition video camera, that clearly offered the superior view and scope of "The Play". One look and I knew I had to have it.
Hill loaded a couple of clips onto a thumb drive and transferred them onto my Dell laptop. I returned to the radio station and enlisted the help of the multitalented Denmark Danielz, a professional D.J. and tech/computer whiz, to help synchronize the audio from my call to the video.
I must fess up, a little doctoring of the audio was necessary to fit the clip and suit my very particular standards for public presentation. Nothing much, just a couple of unnecessary lines to help everything time out right. With the clarity of hi-def video and the beautifully framed shot, I knew this had the potential to get some play on ESPN's top plays.
I returned home in the early hours of Saturday and searched for a phone number for ESPN's Bristol, Connecticute compound. I got a guy on the line who seemed like he was really happy to have someone to talk to (about 4:30 p.m. or so Eastern time). He was chatty but admitted he had no idea where to send me and suggested I call back in a few hours. After a minimal amount of sleep, I phoned back, was connected with the assignment desk and told to post the clip to YouTube and send them the link. The rest is history.
Frustratingly, it wasn't until late Monday morning that I was able to see the end result. I didn't catch SportsCenter Saturday night and was stuck in court Monday morning. It was a little disappointing that they didn't use our audio, but more aggravating was the fact that my vintage T.V. apparently doesn't get the whole picture, cutting Mims completely from view on the play. I'm assuming all of you with fancy new flatscreens and plasmas and hi-def saw the full view. If not, shame on ESPN.
Anyhow, it's gotten a lot of attention (about 1500 YouTube hits as of this writing) and was referenced in an article on oregonlive.com tonight. I should take this time to acknoledge Mark Danielz for all of his help Friday night. I am a dope when it comes to computers and would have had no idea how to craft this piece without his assistance.
Our plan is to put together a highlight montage of this game and make it available not only on YouTube but as a souvenir CD for those who were there and those who missed out.
As for the blog, well I hope to keep you updated with sports goings on from the Last Dam Down as frequently as time allows.
See you at the game!