LIGHTNING FACTOR IN GRINDING SD LOSS

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South Dearborn’s Bailey Whitelock (6) makes a last-ditch dive to try and stop Seymour’s Nate O’Mara (3) on his 24-yard TD run at 8:26 in the second quarter of Friday’s 7-0 opening loss.

 

AURORA - Sometimes you have to wonder if Mother Nature is a football fan, or not.

A pair of lightning delays with 5:53 left before halftime set back Friday’s South Dearborn home opener against Seymour for a full hour.

Seymour’s Owls, a defensive club on par with SD’s Knights, led 7-0 at that point, with junior running back Nate O’Mara breaking a tackle on a 24-yard touchdown slant over the left side at 8:26 in the second quarter.

Kicker/punter Caleb Elliot, who figured in the visitors’ edge in the field position battle all night, added the extra point.

Torrential rain that followed the thunder and lightning that close in near the end of the second half delayed the restart until about 8:35 p.m., with the thick grass of Knights Stadium considerably slickened.

By mutual agreement of both coaching staffs, the teams warmed up for 10 minutes before play resumed, with no halftime break to follow.

Despite some mild threats, neither team could manage a score on the wet track over the final 29:53, with the Owls taking home the 7-0 win.

SD announced the intention to take risks to open the game, with kicker Zach Dick surprising everyone with the onside kick attempt. But it failed, with the ball rolling out of bound at the Seymour 48, where the Owls’ opening possession began.

Led by O’Mara’s workhorse 33 rush attempts for 146 yards - keeping it grounded for the major chunk of Seymour’s 42 offensive snaps - Owls drove to fourth-and-8 at the Knights’ 14 before turning it over on downs.

South Dearborn answered with its longest drive of the night, starting at its own 18-yard line.

Knights senior workhorse RB David Blair, who finished with 53 of the hosts’ 110 net rush yards, on 15 carries, kicked the handoff on first play from scrimmage, but fell forward on it for a two-yard gain.

The biggest play of South Dearborn’s initial 12-play drive followed a 7-yard first-down run by junior Dalton Guthrie (11 carries, 34 yards) and a 14-yard quick slant completion from QB Adam Dixon to Trey Thies for first down at the Knights 48.

Dixon followed by connecting with senior wideout Ethan Getz for 38 yards down the left sideline for first down at the Seymour 14.

Unfortunately, an SD holding penalty on the next play set back the hosts, with Dixon throwing long, out of bounds, near the left side of the goal line for Getz and Thies on third-and-18 and fourth-and-18.

“We kept stopping ourselves on offense,” Coach Ballart said. “We had a great first drive where we went right down the field in about 4-5 plays. David Blair had a good, hard run down to the 5-yard line, only to be called back due to a holding call.

“The next snap we had a procedure penalty called. So, instead of being first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, we are left looking at a first-and-25 from the 25, and we could not capitalize.

“That seemed to be the story all night for us offensively. We would be driving and then fumble. We are making some adjustments this week and will fix our mistakes.”

South Dearborn’s three turnovers Friday, two lost fumbles and a game-ending interception, were enough to stymie the Knights at crucial times.

Owls connected on a 41-yard bomb from QB Brendan Smith (2-6 passing, 87 yards, Int.) to 6’4” wide receiver Elijah Corwin on the second play after retaking possession, for first down at the Knights 34. But two-straight stops for loss forced a Seymour punt on fourth-and-16, downed at the SD five.

South Dearborn went three-and-out from the shadow of its own end zone, punting the ball away to the Owls’ 46 as the second quarter started.

Seymour responded with a brief five-play drive for the game’s lone score, despite opening with a holding penalty that made it necessary to convert a third-and-22, 22-yard first down strike to wideout Breyton Johnson, deep down the right side.

O’Mara broke a last-ditch tackle attempt inside the 5-yard line to tally the game-winning TD on the next play.

“There was some confusion on that play,” Ballart noted. “Our cornerback thought he was getting help over the top and our safety thought we had a stunt on, so he came up to cover the backer and just wasn’t able to get back.

“The long pass down the sideline (earlier in the series) is the play that hurt. We had them at third-and-25 and had a blown assignment down the sideline for a huge gain.

“On the next play, we felt like there were three missed infractions that allowed O’Mara to score. But it is what it is, and we need to fight through those. After that, we were able to settle in and have better communication from the sideline. Seymour didn’t have much success after that.”

Unfortunately the Owls had all the points they needed.

Knights’ Bailey Whitelock returned the ensuing kickoff 27 yards to the SD 38, but another three-and-out followed. Zach Dick punted the ball away to the Seymour 27, but the Owls managed only to drive to second-and-1 at their own 36 before the action was interrupted by lightning in the area.

“The field conditions definitely didn't help either team get the traction they needed, which is why neither of us were able to get a run game going,” Ballart added. “Give credit to Seymour. They played a very fundamentally sound game and didn’t make any mistakes.

“I told the kids before the game that the team that scored first would be the team that wins the game. I knew it would be a defensive battle. Our kids played hard and I cannot take that away from them. We just made a few more mistakes than Seymour and that was the difference in the game.”

Both teams had short possessions when play resumed, before the halftime clock expired.

When the third quarter started, SD drove 37 yards before losing a fumble on a hit by Seymour linebacker Justice Perry, with Jacob Rotert recovering.

Punts were exchanged both ways before the Owls got rolling, with O’Mara carrying on seven-straight plays for 36 yards to the Knights’ 39.

South Dearborn stopped the drive by intercepting a Smith pass on the next play and the hosts regained possession to open the fourth quarter.

More tearing up of the middle of the field was all that either squad accomplished, exchanging punts again until SD got one last chance to tie it starting with 3:03 left on the game clock.

Dixon’s strong arm hooked up with his receivers for gains of 25, 17 and nine years to move the Knights to first down at the Owls’ 16-yard line with 42 seconds remaining.

The next play was another pass, with Perry getting a hand up to deflect the ball, then catching his own tip for what proved to be the game-clinching interception.

Dixon finished the contest with 139 yards passing on 12 of 23 attempts and the crucial pickoff.

“I thought our secondary did a good job of staying in position with the coverage,” Seymour’s second-year coach Michael Kelly said afterward. “I thought the defense played really, really well.

“(South Dearborn) was a good football team, with a lot of athletes. They are doing a good job of building a program.”

Ballart concluded: “I felt like our defense really played well. Even though we had some missed assignments that cost us, overall we felt pretty good about how they played. We were very impressed by the play of defensive end Axel Bell, as he owned that position all night. Timmy Dick made some great plays from his outside linebacker position.

“P-nut Shepherd and Bryce Valdez did a great job on the defensive line, making Seymour bounce everything to the outside, which allowed our backers and secondary to make the plays.

“Owen Lunsford and Bailey Whitelock did a great job in the secondary and Zach Otto and Kyle VanGuelpen did a good job on the corners. We also were able to get out injury-free, and that is always a good thing.”

Knights head to Madison this coming Friday to take on another non-league Hoosier Hills Conference opponent. The Cubs are also 0-1, having dropped their home opener to Class 2A Paoli, 34-7.

 

Owls 7

Knights 0

Friday, August 18

At Aurora

 

Seymour 0 7 0 0 -- 7

South Dearborn 0 0 0 0 -- 0

 

Scoring:

SEY - 2Q - 8:26 - Nate O'Mara 24-yard run, Caleb Elliot kick (SEY 7-0)

 

Team statistics:

SD SEY

First Downs 18 11

Rush Att./Yds.34/110 39/142

Passing Yds. 139 83

Pass C/A/Int. 12/23/1 1/4/1

Total Offense 249 225

Offensive Plays 65 47

Avg. Gain/Play 3.8 4.7

Fumbles/Lost 3/2 0/0

3rd Down Conv. 2/10 6/12

4th Down Conv. 1/1 0/1

Penalties/Yds. 7/74 3/29

Punts/Avg. 5/37 5/33

Punt Ret./Yds. 5/0 4/10

Kickoffs/Avg. 1/8 2/47

Kick Ret./Yds. 3/27 1/0

 

Individual statistics:

RUSHING - SD: Blair 15 att./53 yds./long 6, Guthrie 11/34/long 8, Dixon 4/9/long 8, Pruitt 2/7/long 4, Team 2/7. SEY: O'Mara 34/141/long 24/TD, Smith 4/1/long 3.

PASSING - SD: Dixon 12 compl./23 att./139 yds./0 TD/1 Int. SEY: Smith 2/4/83 yds./0 TD/1 Int.

RECEIVING - SD: Getz 4 rec./87 yds./long 38, Hatfield 3/23/long 13, Thies 2/23/long 13, Guthrie 2/11/long 10, Sperringer 1/-5. SEY: Brigdon 1/42, Corwin 1/41.

PUNTS - SD: Z.Dick 5 att./185 yds./37.0 avg./long 40. SEY: Elliott 5/167/long 39/3 inside 20.

PUNT RETURNS - SEY: Dover 3 ret./12 yds./long 6, Clark 1/6.

KICKOFFS - SD: Z.Dick 1 att./8 yds. SEY: Elliott 2/94/47.0 avg./long 49.

KICK RETURNS - SD: Blair 1 ret./10 yds., Team 1/27. SEY: Team 1/0.

DEFENSE - SD: Lunsford 5 solo tackles/3 assists/Int., VanGuelpen 4/3, Whitelock 3/6, T.Dick 3/3/2 tackles for loss, Pruitt 2/3, Z.Dick 1/3/TFL, Valdex 1/2, Guthrie 0/4, Getz 0/1, Terrill 0/7, Otto 0/4, Shepherd 0/2, Waldon 0/2.