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Playoff number crunching

Before I get into the nitty gritty of Monday night's twice-delayed AAA Northwest Division 6 quarterfinal between Osbourn Park and Riverbend, I wanted to pose a hypothetical:

Team A runs 68 offensive plays to Team B's 41. Team A has 19 first downs to Team B's 10. Team B commits nine penalties for 91 yards, while Team A loses just 31 yards on six penalties. Team B has two turnovers, one on its first possession and another that results in a Team A touchdown. Team A punts just three times. Who wins the game?

Well, if you haven't guessed already, Team A was Riverbend last night. Team B was, of course, Osbourn Park. And it was the latest example of how meaningless a statistic time of possession can be in the playoffs (or any football game for that matter) when undeniable talent and big play capability are brought into the equation. If you checked out my game story in this morning's paper, you'd know Osbourn Park's Dominique Terrell went off for 271 total yards to lead the Yellow Jackets to a 28-13 victory despite fumbling a punt return that eventually gave Riverbend its only touchdown of the first half.

And take a closer look at Riverbend's 68 plays last night. They totaled 312 yards, or 4.59 yards per play. Over on the Osbourn Park sideline, the Yellow Jackets racked up 359 yards, meaning they almost doubled up Riverbend with 8.75 yards per play. Look no further than Terrell for that gaudy average, as he picked up 225 rushing yards on just 15 carries. That included a 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and a 52-yard run in the third quarter.

The 52-yarder might have been the biggest play of the second half, though it didn't ultimately result in Osbourn Park points. After entering halftime down 21-7, Riverbend came storming out of the gate, marching to the Yellow Jackets' six-yard line in seven plays. Osbourn Park's defensive line held on three straight plays, including a four-yard loss on thrid-and-goal. Then on fourth and goal from the 7-yard-line, Riverbend quarterback Zach Naccarato rolled to his left and fired a pass to wide receiver Nicky Lacik, only to watch the ball hit his hands and fall to the ground.

On the very next play, Terrell switched the field position with a 52-yard run down the sideline. Terrell, whose Yahoo recruiting page claims he runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, was actually caught from behind on the play by Riverbend's Jesse McNeal and sat out Osbourn Park's next two plays. When he came back in, the Yellow Jackets' drive fizzled, but the damage had been done and the momentum had changed. Riverbend didn't get into the red zone again until fullback Mitch Ratcliff scored on a 11-yard run as time expired.

The win was all the more impressive considering Osbourn Park's top running back, Gary Jackson III, fumbled on the game's first play and spent a majority of the contest on the bench as a result. Jackson rushed for more than 600 yards during the regular season.

Osbourn Park now has three days to prepare for a AAA Northwest Division 6 semifinal against No. 10 Woodbridge. Back on Halloween night, Terrell averaged just four yards per carry and Osbourn Park was held mostly in check by the Vikings's defense in a 9-3 loss. I'm no defensive coordinator, but it seems as the shifty Terrell goes, so goes the Yellow Jackets. The only question now is who on the Woodbridge scout team is imitating him this week in practice.

By Mark Giannotto  |  November 17, 2009; 11:22 AM ET
Categories:  Football , Northwest Region , Osbourn Park , Riverbend  
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Mr. Giannotto,nice work. I really enjoyed this article. However, two corrections are in order. It was Justin Carolina (#11) that fumbled on OP's first possession, not Gary Jackson (#1). And, both Jackson and Carolina continued to play throughout the game.

Posted by: smithblackmon | November 19, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

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