No. 1 Patterson passes toughest test, 43-34, over No. 4 City

October 29, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

No. 1 Patterson had played smash-mouth football all season, outscoring its first seven opponents, 255-14, with five shutouts. But the Clippers nearly took it on the chin yesterday from No. 4 City.

Patterson (8-0) trailed for the first time this season, by a point in the first quarter and by one again late in the second before winning, 43-34.

Ryan Lewis entered the game with 21 touchdowns and left as the game's high scorer. He rushed 17 times for 146 yards and scores of 29, 46 and 8 yards -- the last capping a nine-play, 53-yard drive for the winning margin with 3:02 left in the game.

But the game's most critical point came when Patterson turned a 14-13 deficit into a 22-13 lead with nine points in the final 1:42 of the first half.

City's Taber Small (21 carries, 124 yards) scored his first of two touchdowns from 30 yards to put the Knights up, 14-13. But on Patterson's next series, quarterback Willie McGirt (nine carries, 127 yards) used the option run three times for 67 yards -- the final carry taking him over for a 5-yard score.

"I just felt it was my time to take over a little bit," said McGirt, who was 4-for-9 passing for 78 yards and a touchdown. "This was our biggest game of the year, and one we weren't going to lose."

McGirt squib-kicked on the ensuing kickoff, allowing teammate Melvin Braxton to recover at the City 44 with 25 seconds left, then tossed a 39-yard pass to Carnest Peele to set up Mike Jaski's 23-yard field goal four seconds before halftime.

"That series was the difference today," said City's Damian Beane, who rushed 16 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns. "After that, we'd score and they'd score. They won by those nine points."

The victory was the first for coach Roger Wrenn (133-75-2) in 21 seasons over the Knights, who had won 37 of their past 38 regular-season games going into the game.

"We needed a close game to test our character," said Wrenn, whose Clippers lost, 24-8, to City last year. "We knew they'd play hard-nosed football, but when we crank it up, we're hard to stop."

So were City's misdirection plays and its passing attack of quarterback Mike Johnson (9-for-20, 106 yards), starting in only his third game, and receiver Warren Smith (five receptions, 67 yards).

City (7-1) trailed, 36-14, with 8:40 left in the third period after a snap on a punt from its 21-yard line went over Andrew Lashley's head and rolled into the end zone, where Peele recovered it for a touchdown.

But the Knights responded with 20 unanswered points to come within 36-34 with 8:29 left in the game.

They covered 78 yards in 13 plays before getting Beane's 9-yard run with 4:28 left in the third. Then Walter Vaughan returned Lewis' fumbled handoff 38 yards to make it 36-26 just 2:15 before the fourth, and Small scored from 25 yards -- bowling over a defender at the 2 -- to complete an eight-play, 65-yard drive with 8:29 left in the game.

"We were only one or two plays away from winning this game," said City coach George Petrides.

City gained 3 yards on its opening drive thanks to a defense led by Braxton (eight tackles), Joe Mechlinski (10 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery), Duane Simmons (nine) and Rahim Booth (nine).

Two plays after Lewis returned the ensuing punt 29 yards, Tim Horky turned McGirt's 5-yard dump pass into a 28-yard score. Jaski's kick made it 7-0 with 9:50 left in the quarter.

But Patterson trailed by one with seven minutes left after Beane's 16-yard touchdown capped a 77-yard drive, and Johnson's conversion pass found Kevin Griffin (three receptions, 38 yards).

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