Pack falls in finale
Published 11:49 pm Friday, October 28, 2011
Desperately needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, Washington battled Coastal Conference rival West Carteret even for three quarters until the Patriots scored two unanswered touchdowns to lock up a 21-7 win over the Pam Pack in the last game of the regular season on Friday.
The two teams entered the fourth quarter locked in a 7-7 tie, but West Carteret (8-4, 4-3) was able to knock down a Jack Rodman punt, which was recovered by Dontarius Collins who ran it back 32 yards to take a 14-7 lead with 10:21 left in the fourth quarter.
Washington pulled off a miracle last week when it overcame a late 13-0 deficit against South Central to win 21-13, but there would be no magical ending on Friday. The Pam Pack offense struggled to find its rhythm, and the end zone, as it tallied a mere 85 yards on the ground and 40 through the air.
“I don’t think we ran the ball as hard as we have been,” Washington coach Sport Sawyer said. “(West Carteret) was more physical than us up front.”
Heading into Friday’s game, the Pam Pack was locked in a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings with West Carteret and White Oak, all of whom had 3-3 conference records.
With the loss, Washington drops to fifth place in the standings even if White Oak fell to Jacksonville because the Vikings beat the Pam Pack in their head-to-head battle.
The top three places in the conference are guaranteed a playoff spot, while the fourth place team has a strong chance of getting a wild card birth. Sitting in fifth place, Washington can only sit back and keep its fingers crossed as it awaits its postseason future.
The Pam Pack finished the season 5-5 (3-4), but will lose a win from its record when it is submitted to the NCHSAA because its victory over North Pitt in its endowment game gets removed for the postseason. In a fairly hard to interpret rule that was put in place before the season started, endowment games do not count towards the postseason, win or lose.
“I guess we’re going to need a little bit of help to get in,” Sawyer said. “We’re 5-5 for the season but for playoff purposes we’re 4-5.”
West Carteret was also looking to boost its playoff positioning and it struck first as it pieced together a 64-yard drive that ended with running back Joseph Grant scoring from 1-yard out to take a 7-0 lead.
West Carteret received a ton of penalties, and at one point was on the Washington side of the field looking at a second-and-5 until penalties wiped out two TDs and pushed them all the way back across the 50.
After the game, a member of the West Carteret coaching staff was seen talking to an official and drew a flag in what appeared to be a post-game ejection. If that was the case, that coach will not be allowed to participate in next week’s playoff game.
After Grant’s TD, Washington answered on its next drive when freshman running back Markel Spencer ripped off a 60-yard TD run up the middle of the Patriots’ defense to tie the game up at 7.
Washington would not reach the end zone the rest of the game as it failed to crack the West Carteret defense.
It’s been a tough year for Washington as it has had to deal with several key injuries throughout the season, but after the game Sawyer said he was proud of his team’s fighting spirit.
“We’ve had our fair share of adversity this year,” Sawyer said. “But the guys never quit and I respect them for that.”
West Carteret 0 7 0 14 — 21
Washington 0 7 0 0 — 7
WC — Joseph Grant 1 run (Kris Lindner kick), 3:48, 2nd.
W — Markel Spencer 60 run (Will Cutler kick), 4:02, 2nd.
WC — Dontarius Collins 32 punt block (Lindner kick), 10:21, 4th.
WC — Matt Padgett 10 pass from Jared Carr (Lindner kick), 6:08, 4th.