GRANGER TWP. — Sometimes you’re the hero. Sometimes, well, you’re not.
Highland football coach Tom Lombardo wasn’t feeling very heroic Friday night following his team’s heartbreaking 24-23 Suburban League loss to visiting Copley.
The Hornets, trailing 24-17 in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, rallied to pull within one point when junior wide receiver Cory Moncol took a short pass from quarterback Bruce Kinsey and broke free around the right side for 8 yards and a touchdown.
There were just 23 seconds left on the clock.
Lombardo opted to try for the two-point conversion to win the game in regulation rather than attempt the game-tying extra point and go into overtime.
Kinsey, who had success throughout the night against Copley, couldn’t get around the right edge on a quarterback keeper and was stopped short of the goal line.
Highland’s onside kick was recovered by the Indians (4-1, 1-1), who took one final snap to run out the clock and preserve the victory over the Hornets (3-2, 1-1).
Lombardo shouldered the blame.
“Sometimes you have to make decisions,” he said. “Sometimes they go in your favor and sometimes they don’t. If it works it’s a great call, and if it doesn’t work it’s the worst call in the world. So it was the worst call in the world.”
The game-saving tackle was made by Copley senior Aregeros Turner.
“I thought we could get the 3 yards,” Lombardo said. “We had the edge all night, and I thought we could get the edge. Turner just sat out there (on the corner). We didn’t get out to his outside shoulder and he made the play.”
Turner also had arguably the biggest play on offense for the Indians when he broke free for a 77-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The play came just 20 seconds after Kinsey scored a 10-yard touchdown of his own to tie the game at 17.
Turner finished with 115 yards on 15 carries. He added 40 yards on a pair of receptions from junior quarterback John Kromalic.
Highland countered with sophomore Tanner Houska. The 165-pounder led the Hornets with 10 carries for 107 yards, many coming on end-around handoffs with Houska racing to the wide side of the field to find open turf. Houska was also dangerous in the passing game with four catches for 32 yards.
The workhorse for Highland was senior tailback Kent Masters, who found 86 tough yards inside on 19 carries.
Highland opened the scoring when senior Joe Simonis kicked a 30-yard field goal with five minutes left in the first first quarter.
Senior Adam Kluk’s 3-yard dive for a touchdown in the second quarter gave the Hornets a 10-7 lead at the half before Copley scored on back-to-back touchdown passes from Kromalic to wide receiver Troy Brown.
Contact Eric Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copley 24, Highland 23
COPLEY 0 10 7 7 — 24
HIGHLAND 3 7 0 13 — 23
H — Joe Simonis 30 field goal, 5:01.
C — Josh Brebant 38 field goal, 11:51.
H — Adam Kluk 3 run (Simonis kick), 9:15.
C — Troy Brown 5 pass from John Kromalic (Brebant kick), 0:12.
C — Brown 34 pass from Kromalic (Brebant kick), 6:57
H — Bruce Kinsey 10 run (Simonis kick), 8:58.
C — Aregeros Turner 77 run (Brebant kick), 8:37.
H — Cory Moncol 8 pass from Kinsey (run failed), 0:23.
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