Shadyside's fast-and-furious comeback came up one point short Friday night, and so ended an undefeated season and a 10-game home winning streak in first-round OHSAA playoff encounters.
The fourth-seeded Tigers (10-1) dropped a heartbreaking, 19-18, decision to No. 5 Berlin Center (9-2) in a Division VI, Region 21 quarterfinal tournament contest on the Fleming Field turf in Tiger Town.
"We had our chance," a teary-eyed Shadyside head coach Mark Holenka said outside a subdued lockerroom. "When you fall behind the 8-ball ... the kids still fought until the end. That last drive ... the big holding call. They gave everything they could."
Shadyside’s Scott Hammond goes up for a catch against Western Reserve’s Coleman Smith during Friday’s Region 21 quarterfinal.
Trailing 19-3 entering the final 12-minute stanza, Shadyside put together a pair of lightning-quick touchdown drives to pull to within 19-16 with 6:08 remaining to play.
Senior quarterback Chase Kinemond fired a pair of scoring strikes to classmate Ian Baker that covered 55 yards on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter. Forced to go for two because of the 10-point difference, the pass failed.
A holding penalty on the Blue Devils and a big defensive play by Scott Hammond forced the visitors to punt.
Starting at its own 41, Shadyside needed just five plays to reach the end zone as Kinemond found sophomore Austin Dorris wide open down the middle of the field from 46 yards out. Cody Hudson's PAT made it 19-16. A key 11-yard pass from Kinemond to Hudson on fourth-and-8 kept the drive alive.
Just when the Tiger faithful were brought to its feet, it was quickly seated when Western Reserve's do-everything Tim Cooper broke loose for a 58-yard jaunt that took the ball to the Shadyside 1.
A sneak attempt by quarterback Nick Allison failed on first down, but he broke the plane on the next attempt. However, an aiding-the-quarterback infraction against the Blue Devils moved them back five yards. Cooper fumbled on the next carry and Shadyside's Chris Littell grabbed it out of mid air at the Tigers' 5.
Kinemond connected with Hudson for 16 yards on first down and, after two incompletions, the same duo teamed for 10 on third-and-10 for another stick mover. Three straight unsuccessful plays set up a fourth-and-nine, but Kinemond was on target to Scott Hammond for 14 yards to the Tigers' 49.
Kinemond then rifled a 21-yard strike to Hammond down the middle of the field and the Tigers were in business at the Western Reserve 30. Kinemond and Hudson clicked again, this time for 11 yards as the ball was at the 19.
Kinemond rolled right on second-and-10 and found Baker at the 4 for an apparent first-and-goal, but a holding call seven yards deep in the end zone moved the Tigers back to their 37 with 1:17 on the clock.
Kinemond and Hudson once again teamed for 10 yards, but a fourth-down pass for Dorris in the end zone fell to the turf.
The Tigers had all three of their time outs left, but opted not to take one prior to the final play.
"We thought about using them. We thought about a field goal. We finally said, 'Let's go for it and see what happens. Maybe we can get one last shot at it.'"
Shadyside eventually used those stoppages in play to force the Blue Devils into a fourth-and-long in the waning seconds, but Allison took the snap from center and pitched back to Cooper who eluded Shadyside defenders until Kinemond knocked him out of the end zone for a safety with 5.7 showing, making it 19-18.
Alex Quinn fair caught the ensuing free kick to save precious seconds, but Cooper picked off Kinemond's hail mary as time expired.
"I never want to have to come here and play again," an elated Western Reserve head coach Andrew Hake allowed. "That was too much for me. That (Shadyside) is a great Division VI program. We had a chance to put things away, but to their credit, they kept coming back."
The Blue Devils grabbed the early lead as Cooper fielded the opening kickoff at his own 5. Fifteen seconds later, he was in the end zone following a 95-yard runback. Parker Clegg's PAT made it 7-0.
Clegg picked off a pass to end Shadyside's second possession, returning it 25 yards to the Tigers' 32. Eight plays later, fullback Dan Zilke bulled into the end zone to make it 13-0. The extra point failed.
Shadyside got on the scoreboard before the quarter ended as Hudson booted a 23-yard field goal for a 13-3 reading. A 41-yard hookup between Kinemond and Dorris moved the ball deep into Blue Devils' territory before the drive stalled.
A squib kick failed as Western Reserve took over at midfield. An Allison-to-Cooper pass for 38 yards moved the ball to the Tigers' 2, and Allison snuck in on the next play. The two-point try failed, leaving it 19-3.
The setback came in the 51st game for the Tigers' senior class, which included a state championship appearance as sophomores.
"That's a great class. There is just so much heart and so much determination with those kids. They're good athletes. They love the game and they live and die by it. In the weight room, they love each other.
"It's the group that I started with four years ago, and it's the toughest one to say goodbye to because they're the first to be here for years with me.
"I was hoping they'd get to play No. 52, but it just wasn't to be," Holenka said.
Kinemond finished his career with a 17-for 36 outing for 311 yards and the two touchdowns. Hudson landed nine catches for 114 stripes, while Dorris caught four for 102. Hammond had a pair of key snags.
The Tigers managed a meager 22 yards rushing on 22 carries against the much-bigger Blue Devils.
Shadyside was flagged nine times for 66 yards and picked up a dozen first downs. Western Reserve had seven penalties for 45 yards and moved the sticks 10 times.
The Blue Devils will now meet top-seeded Mogadore next Friday at a site to be determined Sunday by the OHSAA.
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