South Lakes 22, Madison 16
Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
Friday night at South Lakes, the fast and quick Seahawks came through against defending champion Madison, taking a 22-16 decision in a AAA Liberty District game that could have playoff implications over the final three weeks of the regular season.
A trio of South Lakes defenders broke up a short, desperation pass by quarterback Johnny Ayers into the end zone on a fourth-down play with 18 seconds remaining, preserving what has become a turnaround season for the Seahawks (5-2, 4-1), whose district title hopes remain alive.
The heave by Ayers, who led his drive on long, time-consuming marches all evening, came with him under heavy pressure and had no specific target. But when the ball squished into the thick, heavy mud, South Lakes, its players and first-year coach Joe Trabucco went into a lengthy on-field celebration -- the expected reaction from a team that entered the year with just one winning season in its past 10, including a 1-8 mark in 2001.
"The attitude has really changed under coach [Trabucco]," said fullback William Bussey, who scored two second-half touchdowns, helping his team erase 8-3 and 16-10 deficits. "We got a great pep talk at halftime from our coaches and we were really ready to come out flying in the second half. We had the feeling that we just can't lose on our home field."
Trailing 8-3, and mostly overpowered by the Warhawks' patient, bruising misdirection ground attack in the first half, South Lakes struck on its first play from scrimmage when quarterback Dan Cidone found Bussey (88 total yards) open over the middle of the field. Bussey caught the ball at the 20 and rambled down the middle of the field to score.
"Our coaches saw they had no safety staying in there, and I just got isolated on a linebacker and beat him," Bussey said.
Madison (5-2, 2-2) answered by moving 73 yards in 11 plays. Running back Andrew Baird (76 yards, 24 carries) capped the drive with a four-yard run and after a two-point conversion led 16-10.
South Lakes then tied the game when Cidone (99 yards passing) found Garrett Gray standing in traffic at the goal line. The junior flanker made an excellent catch to tie the game. However, Chris Myers's extra-point try was wide.
The Seahawks' defense held Madison on its next possession and South Lakes scored the winning points on Bussey's five-yard run.
"Last year, we played not to lose," said South Lakes's senior two-way lineman Jon Volpe. "This year, the attitude is all changed; and we're bigger, stronger and faster."