Posted: 1:45 pm Sunday, September 18th, 2011
By Matt Porter
Before the season, Seminole Ridge and Dwyer were expected to be two of the top teams in the area, one a reloaded state contender and the other a revamped state contender.
Heading into Week 4, what do we have?
Dwyer (2-1) is tough on D but its offense can be described as skittish. Seminole Ridge (1-2) has talent on both sides but is still searching for consistency in all areas.
We have two teams that could make deep playoff runs — if they can get their acts together. We have two of the best-coached teams in the area that don’t always do what they’re told. Grab a seat as we sort out the good and the bad from Friday’s game.
Dwyer’s D a sure thing. Aside from kicker Bobby Puyol being his usual touchback-producing self, Dwyer’s defense was the most consistent group on the field. After allowing an 11-play drive on Seminole Ridge’s first possession, ending in a three-yard Gary Holmes touchdown run, the Panthers settled down. They allowed seven first downs over the final eight Ridge drives, three of which were a direct result of penalties. The longest of those was an 11-play drive that was extended by a roughing-the-punter penalty on fourth-and-15, then a Panthers D-lineman jumping offsides on third-and-1. It ended in a fourth-down incompletion.
Dwyer’s young secondary had a tough time with 6-2 senior receiver Darian Williams, who caught passes of 14 and 47 yards on a fourth-quarter drive that made it 19-14, but they made up for it on the next series when sophomore Shawn Boone stripped Holmes a split-second before he could cross the goal line (more on that later). They were strong against the run and had pretty much every receiver locked down.
Overall, the Panthers allowed 222 yards of total offense, allowed the Hawks just 58 yards on 29 carries, registered a sack and forced three fumbles. Not a bad adjustment to the Wing-T after seeing three spread teams (Miami Central, Glades Central, Jupiter) in the preseason and first two regular-season games.
“They controlled the clock in the first half, but our defense played them good,” Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said. “Defensively we’re playing well. We’re giving up some stupid stuff, but that’s because we didn’t listen in practice. We’ll get that sorted out.”
Since the offense isn’t there yet, Dwyer needs its defense to win ballgames. So far, job well done.
Hawks getting off the ground. Since Dwyer had the run game shut down – Mike Minns and Patrick Miller made it nearly impossible to get between the tackles – it was time for Seminole Ridge’s passing attack to show what it can do. It proved it can carry the offense, setting up both Hawks touchdowns.
On the first-quarter drive that made it 7-0, the Hawks came out in the Wing-T and Holmes got outside for 5, then was dropped for a loss of a yard. On third-and-6, Williams caught a slant for 8 yards. Dwyer junior linebacker Jared Brown stuffed Holmes for a loss of 4, and junior safety Jonathan Moxey nearly picked a pass intended for Williams. On third-and-14 from his own 41, Hawks quarterback Antwan Washington dropped back, paused and laid a nice screen pass over the line to sophomore E.J. Elien, who took it 22 yards.
That shook things up. With a little more breathing room, Holmes rumbled through the middle for 14. Dwyer linebackers Gage Batten, Anthony Williams and D-lineman Kevin Higgins dropped Hawks senior Silas Spearman for a 10-yard loss, and a penalty on Ridge made it first-and-25 from the 35.
“You get Wing-T teams in a long down and distance, and you think you’re doing pretty good,” Daniels said.
But the Hawks had another big play in them. Holmes ran a wheel route, heading to the flat then releasing out into coverage, and Washington found him. Holmes turned on the burners and was knocked out of bounds at the 3 by Moxey, after a gain of 32. Holmes got the call, iso up the gut, and gave the Hawks the lead.
With 9:44 left in the game and the Hawks in desperate need down 19-7, Williams used his length and athleticism to haul in a 14-yard pass on first down. Washington snuck ahead for a pair of successive 6-yard gains, then hit Williams for 47 yards, all the way down to the Dwyer 5. A facemask moved it up to the 3, a distance covered by Holmes on the next play.
As for the Hawks’ running game, a few things are amiss. Ridge’s line is trying to find its way; due to a mix of injuries and ineffectiveness, four new starters played. As noted plenty of times elsewhere, but still an important point, the Hawks don’t have 6-2, 225-pound fullback Tyler Butler to provide the between-the-tackles muscle for Holmes’ slashing runs. Their best blocking back is Elie Turene (5-10, 185), who is currently nursing a strained groin and caught one pass for 1 yard (and was blown up once by Dwyer’s Deandre Bozeman on the play). I’m not Seminole Ridge coach Matt Dickmann or Jupiter coach Charlie Persson (two Wing-T gurus) but this much I know: not having a big fullback in a Wing-T system means you need to be able to do other things. Thankfully for them, the Hawks can pass.
Continuing education of Dwyer’s offense. What does Dwyer have offensively right now? Lots of power running and the occasional deep ball. It’s clear that Dwyer’s defense is well ahead of the offense.
Dwyer’s new quarterback remains a work in progress. Faton Bauta finished 3-of-10 for 88 yards, with completions of 39 and a TD toss of 36 yards. However, he missed all four attempts in the second half and overthrew and underthrew several receivers. As noted before, Bauta can run the ball between the tackles. He posted 50 yards on eight carries in the first half. He finished with 14 carries for 45 yards, with two sacks bringing down the total. He was at his best on a lengthy Dwyer drive at the start of the second quarter that got the Panthers on the board, 7-6.
On second-and-3 from the Panthers’ 27, Bauta took off up the middle through a hole created by monster tackle Patrick Miller, earning the first 10 yards with speed and fighting for 12 more. Seminole Ridge safety Kevin Jerome brought him down. A play later, he got another strong block from Miller and broke a pair of tackles, then hurdled Hawks linebacker Carl Chery. The play went for 7 yards and brought the Panthers to midfield. Bauta was sacked for a loss of 5, but on second-and-15 from the 44, he eluded a defender in the pocket and looped one over the secondary to senior Nick Lawrence for a 39-yard gain.
Junior running back Matt McMahon (8 carries, 26 yards), who had power carries of 12, 5, 5 and 2 on the drive, bulled it in from 3 yards out. A bad snap didn’t let Bobby Puyol get off the extra point.
Bauta’s TD pass was helped by a stellar play by Clinton Stephens, who dove behind double coverage in the end zone to grab a 36-yard bomb. The drive leading up to the pass was hurt by a personal foul, helped by a 13-yard catch from Stephens (two catches, 49 yards), an offsides call on the Hawks and two four-yard carries by Bauta.
“We’d have a great drive and then a terrible drive. We’re not clicking yet,” Daniels said. “We didn’t have a good week of practice. We didn’t concentrate.”
Put some glue on that thing. A case of the drops really hurt the Hawks, and almost sunk Dwyer.
With Dwyer up 12-7 in the third quarter, the Hawks’ D got a big stop. Senior D-lineman Kyle Shortridge dropped Turene for a loss of 3, then Bauta overthrew Stephens. Then Spearman nearly had a pick-six, as Bauta threw into his numbers while Spearman was looking at about 60 yards of open field. The hard pass bounced off Spearman’s chest. Dwyer punted from its own 37. Holmes stood to receive around his own 30. High punt … coming down … through Holmes’ hands and to the ground. Dwyer junior Natrone Macon fell on it at the 33. Three plays later, junior Cortney Lowery carried 21 yards to the end zone off a great block from Miller. Dwyer 19-7 with 15.7 seconds left in the third.
On the first play of the next drive, Williams was open and dropped a pass that might have gone for 30 or more. Washington was sacked by Dwyer sophomore D-lineman Mark Kelly (who had jumped offsides on third-and-1 the previous drive). Seminole Ridge punted. Hawks senior Kamar Diah sacked Bauta for a loss of 8, leading to a Dwyer punt, then Ridge put together the aforementioned pass-heavy drive that led to Holmes’ TD. Then, Dwyer made a mistake of its own. Lowery took the handoff from Bauta and lost it. Hawks junior defensive end Jason Shepherd recovered at the Dwyer 40. Huge play. New life for the Hawks, down 19-14 with three minutes remaining.
Williams (four catches, 85 yards) snagged a 16-yarder, but the Hawks were penalized for a chop block. On first-and-20 from the 35, Holmes got outside and took off. He shook two rushes of tacklers and beat Dwyer’s secondary to the goal. But Dwyer’s Shawn Boone stripped him, leading to a controversial call. The refs said Holmes was not in the end zone, though on first glance he appeared to be. After looking at the film in Zapruder fashion, Hawks coach Matt Dickmann agreed the refs got the call right. Bottom line: If he had the ball up high, Boone may not have been able to claw it away.
For Dickmann, the drops were a symptom of the team-wide problem he faces.
“When we sit there and tell the kid what to do, and they do the opposite…” he said. “If everybody does what they should have, there’s a gaping hole. The team that’s the most consistent is the most successful. Last year we had a senior team. Right now, we’re not real consistent in all areas of the game.
“The pass was there, we didn’t complete it. The hole was there, we couldn’t hit it. We continue to stop ourselves.”
Was the Ridge robbed? Given the above thought, it’s hard to say that was the case, especially two days after the fact. It’s over, it was a non-district game, and both teams have to prepare for district opponents this week. Still, a few judgment calls might have swung the game in the Hawks’ favor.
On Holmes’ fumble, it appeared to these eyes (age 27, 20/20 vision enhanced by the regular consumption of carrots, location high up in the press box) and to those of a fellow reporter (age unknown, vision aided by corrective lenses, on the sideline closest to the play) that Holmes was inside the goal line. It also appeared that the back judge, trailing the play by seven yards or so, made the call.
Both sides were heavily analyzing the play Saturday morning. Dwyer coach Jack Daniels said he and his crew watched the film and that Holmes was stripped at the goal line. After saying Holmes was in, Dickmann later said the refs got the call right, and called the officials to tell them so.
Another questionable play came on the Hawks’ final drive, down 19-14 with time running out. After Ridge forced a Dwyer three-and-out, Ridge set up from its own 35. On first down, Washington was swarmed by Dwyer, and he got off a short toss before he went down. His pass hit the referee, who was standing about two yards to the right of Washington. At first glance, these eyes (this time with a near-parallel above view), saw a slightly forward and incomplete pass. Dwyer’s Malik Brown picked it up and raced to the end zone. It was ruled a backward pass, the TD stood, and the board (and final score) read Dwyer, 26-14.
Next up: Dwyer has Spanish River (ahem, 3-0 Spanish River) on the road Friday night. The best matchup from that game will be the Dwyer secondary vs. Sharks receiver Reggie Love, who had two touchdown grabs in his team’s win over Olympic Heights. Love (10 catches, 239 yards) is tied for the large schools lead in TDs, with five.
Seminole Ridge visits District 9-8A foe Wellington (1-1), which came out of an early bye week and got into a great tangle with John I. Leonard in a loss. The Wolverines have 242 yards of total offense through their first two games.