Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Turnabout, Thou Art A Heartless Bitch

On Saturday afternoon, two NAIA schools, Morningside College of Iowa and Northwestern College of Iowa, rivals in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, met on the home turf of the Morningside Mustangs in Sioux City, Iowa.  Morningside came into the game with an 8-1 record and riding a six-game winning streak during which they had defeated their opponents by scores including 55-13, 70-0, and 69-3.

Northwestern College came into the game with a 4-5 record, including a 4-4 conference mark, and the plucky Red Raiders almost pulled off the road upset of their heavily-favored rival.  With less than two minutes to play in the game, Northwestern scored a touchdown to cut a 14-7 deficit to 14-13.  The Red Raiders eschewed playing for the tie (I mean, who wants to kiss his sister anyway?) but their two-point conversion attempt fell short.  Final score:  Morningside 14, Northwestern 13.  

In the middle of the fourth quarter, with Morningside ahead 7-0 and set up first and ten just outside the Red Raiders' forty-yard line, Mustangs tailback Tyler Kavan found a hole on the left side of his offensive line and rumbled twenty-plus yards, where he was stripped of the ball by Northwestern defensive back Donavan Weldon in one of the niftier defensive plays I have seen so far this season. Weldon took the ball from Kavan while Kavan was still upright and trying to gain yardage.  He simply wrestled it away from him.  An excellent, individual defensive play. 

But wait, there is more.

Undoubtedly aware of the fact that Morningside is a juggernaut and that he and his comrades needed every break they could get in order to win the game, Weldon not only stripped Kavan of the ball, he headed back up the field - towards the Morningside end zone - with all due speed, intent on making a play that would turn the tide of the game.  

He did.  Unfortunately, the direction in which the tide was turned was a decidedly unfavorable one for young Mr. Weldon and his Red Raiders teammates...

...as Weldon crossed midfield, he cut to his left - attempting to angle his way across the middle of the field.  He was about to be hauled down at the Morningside forty-five-yard line when he saw one of his teammates, trailing the play, and running approximately four yards behind him.  Sensing the chance to turn a big play into an ENORMOUS play, Weldon tossed the ball backwards towards his teammate, clearly hoping that his mate would catch the lateral and then run the rest of the distance for the touchdown. 

Except the ball never reached its intended receiver.  Trailing the play, about three or four yards behind the Northwestern player to whom Weldon was trying to throw the ball was the young man who started the ball rolling (or fumbling if you prefer) some ten to fifteen seconds earlier, Morningside tailback Tyler Kavan. Weldon's lateral missed its intended target and nestled, instead, into Kavan's hands.  He caught the ball, running at full speed in the direction of his own end zone, at the Morningside forty-six-yard line.  

His forward (backward?) progress carried him further towards his own end zone but at or about the Morningside forty-two he executed a sweeping turn that re-oriented him back towards the Northwestern end zone.  An end zone from which he suddenly found himself separated by significantly fewer than the Red Raiders' full complement of eleven defenders. Kavan picked up a couple of blockers and his convoy made short work of the only two Northwestern defenders standing between Kavan and the end zone.  

Twenty-five seconds or so after he had initially taken the hand-off, one fumble, one fumble recovery/interception,  and almost sixty yards later, Tyler Kavan scored a touchdown.  

In the span of less than a half-minute, he and Donavan Weldon of Northwestern College provided all of us with an object lesson in the importance of never giving up.  


No comments: