SULLY — Friday night’s state quarterfinal showdown had all the makings of a classic football game.
Whether it was the district rivalry, revenge for the first head-to-head game earlier in the season or the fact that both teams were on long winning streaks, it was clear that the first team to blink was going to finish on the wrong end of the game.
Unfortunately for Lynnville-Sully fans, the Hawks blinked first.
After leading early, the Hawks were held in check by a ramped-up Brooklyn-Guernsey-Malcom defense and junior tailback Jack Kline ran roughshod in the second half to send the Bears to the UNI-Dome with a 28-13 win.
“I think we just put ourselves in too many tough spots,” L-S coach Mike Parkinson said. “We just turned the ball over and made too many mistakes, and they made a lot of improvements. We shot ourselves in the foot too much after we played pretty clean football in the past few games.”
Much like their other games in the playoffs, the Hawks started with the ball and moved briskly down the field. Junior Bailee Samson capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run on a sweep up the home sideline to give the Hawks an early 7-0 lead, but BGM would answer quickly.
Kline gave Hawk fans their first glimpse of what he was capable of when he rattled off a 48-yard touchdown run on the fifth play of the Bears’ ensuing drive that also went up the home sideline. However, the Hawks had an answer of their own on the next drive when Samson burst up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown with 15.9 seconds left in the quarter.
After a BGM penalty on the point-after try, the Hawks attempted a two-point conversion but came up short. For a while it seemed like the missed point would come back to haunt the Hawks, but it was it that point that the Bears turned it on.
“Right off the bat we drive down to get a score, then got a second one,” Parkinson said. “I think the guys really thought ‘OK, we can do this,’ but then BGM really stepped up their defense. That’s when the mistakes started to happen.”
Kline opened the second quarter with a 24-yard run, then followed that one up with a 19-yarder three plays later. Change-of-pace back Kyle Gritsch then stepped in to finish off the drive with a one-yard plunge to give the Bears their first lead of the game.
“He was pretty shifty and we just had trouble tackling him, even though that’s been one of our strong suits all year,” Parkinson said of Kline. “He’s just a different type of back, but they also really did a nice job up front. They were physical and opened up holes.”
The Hawks were forced to punt on their next two possessions, the latter of which ended with a botched snap and an additional Hawk penalty deep in L-S territory. BGM then converted a late fourth-and-six to keep the drive going before some confusion over the game clock halted the game for a few minutes. With six seconds left on the referee’s watch, Kline scored from two yards out to give the Bears a 21-13 lead at halftime and plenty of momentum to go along with it.
A big hit for the Hawks on the opening kickoff for the second half and a nice defensive hold appeared to return some momentum to L-S momentarily, but fumble on the Hawks’ first offensive snap gave it right back to BGM. After a big third-down conversion few more double-digit runs from Kline, who finished with 240 yards and three scores, he found the endzone again from a yard out to give BGM the eventual final lead of 28-13.
“We always talk that in the third quarter there’s a window of momentum where you’ve got to make a big play, and we thought that hit was it,” Parkinson said. “But then we made a mistake on a pass and they got the first down and that took the wind out of our sails.”
Things only got worse for the Hawks from there as they struggled to get the passing game going against BGM’s defense. Senior Cale Van Wyk found fellow senior Nathan Russell for a 16-yard gain on the Hawks’ next drive, but a tipped ball two plays later gave BGM yet another turnover.
The Bears then spent the rest of the game killing the clock with Kline and spending most of their time on defense in the Hawks’ backfield. Gritsch eventually sealed the game with an interception to keep the ball out of L-S’ hands for good.
“We said we needed to put the ball up in the air to save a little bit of time,” Parkinson said. “Incomplete passes won’t hurt you as much sometimes when you’re completing a few with them so you need to salvage yourself some time in that regard.”
Although it was a sudden ending for a team that had been playing lights-out the past few weeks, Parkinson was able to look back at this season with a lot of pride. The Hawks earned a district championship and took their season one step further than last year with a roster that will return a majority of its playmakers next season.
Parkinson acknowledged his seniors from the past two years for their work in getting the Hawks to where they are, but already expressed excitement for next season. If his progression with the program is telling at all, there’s no reason not to think the Hawks’ will be on a path to the UNI-Dome again next season.
“As a coach you’re always thinking of the next one, not that I’m going to go home and start drawing up plays for next year,” Parkinson said with a laugh. “The guys and I will need a break, but this was a great ride. It was an up-and-down year, but we were able to put quite a run together to get where we are now. We brought a lot of pride back to Lynnville-Sully football, and it’s a good time to keep plugging away because we have some momentum and some good things going.”
BGM 28, Lynnville-Sully 13
B — 7 14 7 0 — 28
L — 13 0 0 0 — 13
L — Bailee Samson four-yard run (Jamie Rae kick good), 6:33
B — Jack Kline 48-yard run (Kyle Gritsch kick good), 4:01
L — Bailee Samson 25-yard run (Two-point conversion failed), 15.9
B — Gritsch one-yard run (Gritsch kick good), 8:36
B — Kline two-yard run (Gritsch kick good), 6.0
B — Kline one-yard run (Gritsch kick good), 5:56