By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
Airline’s Bob Patterson said he wasn’t worried. “Not at all,” he said.
Linebacker Champ Endris said he wasn’t worried. “We knew we had to go out there and go to work,” he said.
Head coach Justin Scogin said … well, yeah … he was a little worried. “I think it was natural to be nervous in that situation,” he said.
There were a few thousand Airline fans who did enough worrying for everybody when a very offensive game came down to, of all things, one defensive play in the Vikings’ 36-35 win over the Sharks in a Non-Select Division I second-round playoff game Friday night at Airline Stadium.
Airline held a 36-35 lead with 1:56 to play but Southside, which had just driven 95 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown, decided to go for two points and the potential game-winner. When the ball was placed at the Airline 2 for the extra point(s), the moment of truth was at hand.
At that point, Southside had run 70 total plays and 55 of them had gained at least at least two yards. So why not go for it?
“I told them (the defense) before they went out,” Scogin said. “This is for the quarterfinals.”
Which is exactly where the Vikings are headed when they take on Mandeville next week in another home game.
They got there in great part to that defensive play, which was led by a tight end, a running back and an undersized linebacker.
When Southside’s Vernel Joseph, who had 134 yards on the night, took the handoff on a speed sweep and tried to break through the left side, he got about five feet toward the goal. But not six.
There to stop him was Tre’ Jackson, normally a running back who was only playing defense because of an injury-depleted secondary; Patterson, a receiver who hadn’t played defense all year until this game; and Endris, who is generously listed at 5-11 and 200 pounds.
“It was awesome,” Endris said. “Everybody out there knew they were going to try to run that dive, but when I saw them go in motion, I knew, ‘that ain’t no dive.’ I just rushed in there and got to him with somebody else. I don’t even know who it was.”
One of them was Jackson and the other was Endris’ stepbrother, Bob Patterson.
“Really?” Endris said. “I didn’t even realize that.”
It was part of a redemptive fourth quarter for Patterson, who kept showing up and making significant plays in the game. Earlier, he made a big third-down stop that led to an Airline touchdown; he also caught an 11-yard pass on fourth down that set up a third-quarter Viking score to make it 36-21.
Southside would close it to 36-29, but in the fourth quarter, Patterson caught a deep pass over the middle and tried to race to the end zone, but was caught from behind at the Southside 5 for a 49-yard gain.
That was the good news. The bad news was that Patterson fumbled at the end of the play. Instead of being set up to go up by two scores in the fourth quarter, the Airline defense was back on the field.
“I had to try to put it behind me,” Patterson said. “But I was frustrated.”
After eight running plays with the clock winding down, Southside shocked Airline with a 48-yard pass to a wide-open Wyatt Gibbens that sent a noticeable hush over the stadium.
It looked as if another outstanding night by quarterback Ben Taylor (23 of 26 for 303 yards) might go for naught. Or that a halfback pass from Jackson to Kenny Darby for a 34-yard touchdown might just be an afterthought.
More importantly, it meant that the Vikings were facing a second straight year of an early playoff exit, which is why the closer the Sharks got to the Airline goalline, the higher the anxiety grew. With less than two minutes to play, the Sharks’ Joseph ran it in from 10 yards out to close the margin to a single point.
But the Vikings defense, which had given up 316 rushing yards, made the one play it had to make.
When Southside tried the onside kick, take a guess who came up with the recovery for Airline. That’s right: Bob Patterson.
When they unpiled after the game-deciding extra point and the Vikings began a wild celebration, Endris stayed on the ground just a little bit longer to take it all in. His body language had that “I-can’t-believe-we-just-did-that” look to it.
His real name is Chamberlain, but when the game was on the line, Endris lived up to his nickname.
Contact JJ at firstname.lastname@example.org
AIRLINE 36, SOUTHSIDE 35
S 7 14 0 14 – 35
A 7 22 7 0 – 36
A – Kenny Darby 30 pass from Ben Taylor (Preston Doerner kick)
S – Andrew Angelle 2 run (Brayden Guilbeau kick)
S – Vernel Joseph 3 run (Guilbeau kick)
A – Jarvis Davis 1 run (Doerner kick)
S – Angelle 1 run (Guilbeau kick)
A – Davis 31 pass from Taylor (Davis run)
A – Darby 34 pass from Tre Jackson (Doerner kick)
A – Taylor 3 run (Doerner kick)
S – Angelle 4 run (Angelle run)
S – Joseph 10 run (run failed)
RUSHING: Southside (62-316), Joseph 22-134-2TD, Singelton 12-34, Angelle 11-40-3TDs, Fabacher 10-76, Ashton Labit 7-32. Airline, (16-68), Tre Jackson 6-47, Davis 5-19, Taylor 5-2.
PASSING: Southside, Angelle 6-8-0-113-0. Airline, Taylor 23-26-1-303-1, Jackson 1-1-0-34-1TD.
RECEIVING: Southside, Wyatt Gibbens 5-105, Labit 1-8. Airline, Davis 9-101, Darby 6-96, Patterson 3-70, Jackson 3-25, Bryson Broome 3-45.