CRESTVIEW — A spot in the playoffs was on the line Friday night as the Crestview High School football team hosted Tate in a key District 1-7A game.
Simply put, if the Bulldogs won they would make the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Beating the Aggies proved easier said than done.
Midway through the third quarter the Bulldogs were in front 16-6, but the Aggies came roaring back scoring 23 unanswered points on their way to a 29-24.
Bulldog Coach Tim Hatten didn’t try to make any excuses or hide his disappointment.
“Right now we are not a very good team,” he said.”We are not very well coached and we are not making plays. I can tell you right now we are not coached nearly as good as we need to be.
“We are working hard at it. It’s not because we are not working or because our players are not giving us effort. It’s just right now we are not very good for whatever reason.”
Tate (6-2, 1-1) scored the game’s first six points on a pair of Dylan Mancuso field goals. In reality the Aggies could have easily been in front 14-0 at the end of the first quarter as twice they moved the ball inside the Bulldog 10-yard line.
A Denzel Ware sack of Tate quarterback Sawyer Smith ended the first Tate drive and set up a 32-yard Mancuso score. An errant snap to Smith ended the second Aggie threat paving the way for a 27-yard score by Mancuso.
At that point the momentum seemed to swing in favor of the Bulldogs.
With eight minutes left in the second quarter Demetrice Smith blocked and Aggie punt. Although Crestview (3-5, 0-1) was unable to score on the ensuing drive field position swung the way of the Bulldogs.
A Tyler Hancock came up short of the end zone and the Aggies were pinned at their own 1-yard line. Three plays later Smith slipped in the end zone for a safety with 5:14 left in the half.
Crestview started on its own 49 after the Aggie free kick.
Four runs by Emmanuel Reed and an off sides penalty against Tate set the Bulldogs up at the Aggie 30.
Eight plays later Corey Armstrong hit Jaylynne Robinson with a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Bulldogs up 9-6 at the half.
The Bulldogs got the ball to start the second half and drove 97 yards for a touchdown.
Armstrong got the drive started by hitting Ronnie Baylark with a 38-yard pass. Two plays later Armstrong and Robinson teamed up on a 24-yard pass play. A horse collar penalty against Tate moved the ball to the Aggie 15.
Armstrong found Khalil Foster with a pass to put the ball on the two. Two plays later Reed scored.
The Bulldogs were driving again on their next possession when an Armstrong pass went off the hands of Foster and into the arms of Diamonte Thompson who took the pick 45 yards for a touchdown.
“We’re up by 10 points and we’ve got the ball in our hands,” Hatten said. “We get hit and the ball goes up in the air and the pick six it, what kind of turnaround is that?
“Things happen in this game and the ball bounces funny ways, but good teams don’t do stuff like that. You have to make the plays when the plays are there be made.”
On Tate’s next possession Jesse Samuel hit a run up the middle for 79 yards and the Aggies were up for good with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
Samuel scored from 25 yards out in the fourth quarter and Mancuso hit a 43-yard field goal to finish the Tate scoring.
Smith took a safety on fourth down with 50 seconds left in the game to cut the Aggie lead to 29-18.
Crestview’s final score came with 19 seconds left on a 10-yard pass from Armstrong to Reed.
Armstrong finished the night with 310 yards passing completing 21-of-33 passes.
Reed had 67 rushing yards and another 50 yards receiving. Foster had six catches for 124 yards. Matt Gillis had five catches for 43 yards.
Samuel paced the Aggie offense with 175 yards rushing and 15 yards receiving. Tate finished the night with 219 yards on the ground and 27 through the air.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.