Loss to Las Lomas in NCS playoffs caps exciting season
By B. Durham
Piedmont gave its fans and the thousands on hand from Las Lomas all the excitement they could handle. In a 56-21 loss last Friday night in the first round of the NCS playoffs, the Highlanders appeared to be having lots of fun with their A-11 offense – slicing through the Las Lomas offense for short passes and long gains after the catches.
The final score was indicative of the speed and depth of the Knights, yet for the first half those plucky Highlanders danced and darted all over the field and were trailing by only one touchdown, 21-14.
Piedmont had to be considered at least a 21-point underdog to Las Lomas on Friday night, Seeded No. 1 in the North Coast Section playoffs, the Knights entered the game in their hometown in front of a roiling hometown crowd with a 10-0 record.
Piedmont, in contrast, finished its regular season 5-5 and lost to St. Patrick, also 10-0, for the league championship one week earlier, 35-15.
Las Lomas showed its stuff immediately, taking a 7-0 lead in less than two minutes. It added a second touchdown with 6:38 left n the first quarter, and Highlander fans were thinking, "Uh oh."
But in the year of the A-11 offense came a new spirit from a group of guys who never gave up. Barely two minutes after the Knights took a 14-0 lead, Piedmont responded with the most dramatic touchdown of the game. On third down with 4 yards for a first down at their own 42 yard line, Quarterback Jeremy George lofted a short pass top Joey Holland, who cut inside, then outside, streaking down the right sideline for a 58-yard touchdown. Jordan Remer's first of three PAT kicks made it a 14-7 game.
Before the end of the quarter, Kyle Nelson recovered a Las Lomas fumble, and the combination of passes to Kyle Bonacum and the running and heady play of George, brought Piedmont to the 3-yard line early in the 2nd quarter. With the tying score in sight, the Highlanders tried a fake field goal, and kicker Remer was brought down _ yard shy of the goal line.
A second scoring attempt failed on a 4th and 1 at the Las Lomas 19 yard line when an pass for a first down at the 11 was dropped.
Piedmont's defense took over, putting big pressure on the Las Lomas quarterback Kyle Bonacum saved a touchdown with an open field tackle, but the Knights' running game was too much for Piedmont. With 3:24 left in the half, they scored to take a 21-7 lead.
Matt Fineman's fumble recovery put Piedmont on track for another rally late in the first half. On passes to Andrada and George's scrambling runs, the Highlanders got down to 20, where George connected with Devin Brown in the end zone for a touchdown pass.
Walking off the field at halftime, Piedmont players and coaches had to feel good about the score, 21-14. Appropriately, Las Lomas fns were a bit quiet, surprised at how close that game had become. "We were thrilled at halftime," exuded coach Kurt Bryan. "We had three legitimate dropped TD passes in the first half., and we were still that close."
But that changed after intermission, as Las Lomas scored for a 28-14 lead with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Piedmont's defense gave the Knights a battle, and kept them from further scoring for six more minutes. More than three minutes into the final quarter, Piedmont was trailing 28-14, a remarkably close game give the odds in favor of Las Lomas. "When I looked up at the scoreboard in the fourth quarter and I saw the score 28-14, I knew we had done something right," said coach Kurt Bryan.
Las Lomas moved ahead 35-14 on a touchdown with 8:31 left, but 1 minute later, George connected to Andrada for a 40 yard pass. Two plays later George threw a 25-yard TD pass to Bonacum to cap a 4-play, 65-yard drive.
Suddenly Piedmont was still in the game, down 35-21.
"Our boys played great," said a nearly hoarse Bryan. "I can't tell you how proud I was to see them refuse to give up.":
The Highlanders finally wore down and the Knights revved up, scoring three touchdowns in the final five minutes for a runaway score, 56-21.
George had another big game, passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns, and running for 25 more yards. Andrada led Piedmont's fleet of 12 receivers (only with an A-11 offense will you see that) with 73 yards on four receptions. Holland had 71 yards on only two catches, and Bonacum totaled 59 yards on four reception.
Scott Bradsby was the man on defense, coming up with 13 tackles on a night when missed tackles were the norm.
Getting to the NCS playoffs was an early-season dream by the Piedmont coaches. Playing Las Lomas dead even for three quarters of a game was even better.