PACE — Friday’s Kickoff Classic between Crestview High School and Pace was truly a classic.
Bulldog defensive end Denzel Ware forced a fumble as he sacked Patriot quarterback Daniel Smyers with 26 seconds left in the game. Blayze Spencer scooped up the loose ball and returned it 33 yards to the Patriot 28-yard line.
Four plays later Tyler Hancock kicked a 36-yard field goal with two seconds left in the game giving the Bulldogs a 17-14 win.
“I really couldn’t do it (make the big plays) without my teammates and coaches,” Ware, a University of Kentucky commit said. “When you play in the SEC (Southeastern Conference) you have to make big plays.
“I know in that pass situation the tight end was out wide so I had more space to get to the quarterback.”
At times the Bulldogs were their own worst enemies, or at least the officials saw it that way. Crestview had three touchdowns called back, but the Bulldogs kept their composure in the face of adversity and battled back for the win.
After the freshmen and junior varsity teams played a scoreless first half it was the Patriots that drew first blood.
Neither team’s varsity was unable to score on its first possession. A Pace punt pinned the Bulldogs inside their own 10-yard line on their second possession of the night.
Unable to move the ball, Crestview punted to the Bulldog 25 where Patriot tailback Quaide Weimerskirch took over.
Weimerskirch, who finished the night with 128 yards on 16 carries had four carries for 20 yards on the short drive to put Pace up 7-0 with 11:56 left in the game.
And then things got interesting.
The Bulldogs responded with 10-play, 68-yard drive in which they had to score twice to one touchdown.
Jaylynne Robinson was the workhorse on the drive with carries and receptions totaling 33 yards.
It looked as if the Bulldogs tied the game on a 5-yard touchdown run by Emmanuel Reed, but they were called for an illegal formation that negated the score. Two plays later Reed found D.J. Stewart in the end zone for a 15-yard scoring pass. David Born’s extra point tied the game at 7-7 with eight minutes showing on the clock.
The defenses stiffened and until the 2:22 mark when Weimerskirch scored from 33 yards out.
A 69-yard pass from Khalil Foster to Reed and an extra point by Hancock tied the game at 14 with 2:05 showing on the clock.
The Patriots then went to the air as Smyers hit Jacob Sherrard with a 36-yard pass to move Pace close to field goal range.
But the Patriot offensive line had no match for Ware who blew into the backfield to force the fumble and set up the last second heroics.
Pace had one last play following the Hancock field goal, but Ware finished off a big night with his third sack of the game to seal the Bulldog win.
First-year Crestview coach Tim Hatten was pleased with the effort of his team when their backs were to the wall.
“You’ve got to overcome adversity,” he said. “We had a couple of touchdowns called back. I like the way the kids kept fighting.”
“We had to back up and get our composure a little bit, but if you work hard, I like our chances. We have to get a lot better in a lot of areas, but that’s what tonight is for.”
Crestview opens the regular season Friday at Milton.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.