Saturday, November 26, 2011

It just wasn't the Cardinals' day

Clayton Jones/News-Sun
Eunice's Tyler Almager runs the ball during the 2A state title game Saturday.
  Just as the players were about to shake hands at midfield after Eunice’s gut-wrenching 21-14 loss to defending champion Santa Rosa in the Class 2A state championship game, the Santa Rosa public address announcer got the crowd to start chanting, “Back-to-back! Back-to-back!”
  One Eunice player – already visibly frustrated – turned with his arms flexed and down to his side yelled, “This makes me so mad!”
  I don’t think it was so much the public address announcer’s actions or the chant that had this Eunice player upset as much as knowing the best team in Class 2A wasn’t walking with the blue championship trophy.
  After watching this game, I have no problem saying Eunice is the best team in Class 2A. It’s not me being a homer or trying to make the people of Eunice feel better because there is nothing I can write that can make a Cardinal fan feel good after Saturday.
  Eunice moved the ball on Santa Rosa throughout (outgaining the Lions 291-265) and held Santa Rosa’s single-wing rushing attack that features three 1,000-yard running backs to less than 200 yards on the ground (something I’d guess hasn’t been done very often this season).
  But Eunice gave the ball – and essentially the state championship – away. Six turnovers to be exact.
  I don’t want to take anything away from Santa Rosa. The Lions drove 54 yards in the final minute of the game, and using a passing attack that was as rusty as the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, connected on three passes – the final a toss from Josh Tenorio to Marcus Lopez for a 9-yard score with 6.3 seconds remaining.
  Still, it never should’ve gotten to that point for the Cardinals. The six turnovers killed drives and momentum throughout, and despite it all Eunice still had a shot to win this game.
  Twice the Cardinals had the ball in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 14. But Eunice fumbled and turned it over on downs.
  Turnovers weren’t a problem for Eunice this season. Heck, for as much as the Cardinals aired it out, they only threw four interceptions heading into this contest.
  Saturday it was a problem. A big one.
  Sometimes in sports, it just isn’t your day. Ask the New England Patriots after Super Bowl XLII and losing to the New York Giants, last season’s Goddard squad which was undefeated and looked unstoppable before losing to Artesia in the semifinals or any other team that appears on paper to the be the best before falling short.
  This particular Saturday in Santa Rosa, it just wasn’t Eunice’s day.

Note: This column appears in Sunday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun