Escambia High Gators: Bay Tornados: 20 - Escambia High Gators: 26

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Game Played 10/12/2007 7:00PM  

Escambia seals win over Bay in wild fashion
Pat McCann, News Herald Executive Sports Editor

PANAMA CITY - Teams and coaches often lament one poor play, or even disastrous quarter costing them a chance for victory.

For Bay in its 26-20 loss to Escambia Friday night at Tommy Oliver Stadium, it was 83 seconds. That’s the time it took the Tornadoes to lose two turnovers, have two players ejected in a fracas that resulted in three disqualifications, and for the Gators to score three unanswered touchdowns.

It turned a 13-6 Bay lead late in the third quarter into a 26-13 deficit with 11:37 remaining, and proved too big a hole for the Tornadoes to emerge from.

They dropped to 2-5 entering a bye week, while Escambia ended a three-game drought to improve to 2-3.

“And it was all off crazy things, too” Bay coach Mike Healey said. “It got away from us in the third quarter and it was on crazy things.”

When 300-pound fullback Khyri Thornton rambled 50 yards over left tackle Bay seemed in control with exactly 5 minutes left in the third quarter. Thornton gained 112 of his game-high 139 yards rushing in the quarter.

David Calland returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the 47, however, and nine combined runs by Trent Richardson and Anthony Johnson tied the game. Richardson, Escambia’s workhorse throughout the initial three quarters, dived in on fourth-and-goal from the 3 and Tim Brown’s kick tied the game.

Exactly one minute remained in the third quarter when things really got dicey.

The Tornadoes were pinned on their 13 because of a block-in-the-back penalty on the next kickoff. When quarterback Ethan Register kept around the right side on first down Bay insisted that his knee was down at the 20.

A fumble was ruled with Raphael Colley recovering, and a brief fight ensued with Escambia losing Calland and Bay having Jacquez Williams and James Smith ejected. Coupled with injuries to starters Jamal Cain and Logan McInturff and reserve running back Michael Godfrey earlier in the game the Tornadoes were shorthanded.

But that didn’t turn momentum further for Escambia. It was a 15-yard fade route from quarterback Anthony Porterfield to Thyri McBride for Porterfield’s first TD pass of the season.

And then two kicks by Brown. The first was the extra point that made it 20-13. The second was the kickoff that Jordon Byas returned across his 30 as a scrum continued to push past the 35.

Suddenly Johnson emerged with the ball for the Gators headed the opposite direction. His steal and TD return made it 26-13.

The Tornadoes were able to get one of the touchdowns back when Nick Gurley’s fumble recovery at Escambia’s 30 led to Register’s 2-yard run with 4:32 to go.

Bay didn’t get the ball back until 17 seconds remained and had 75 yards to cover.
As Healey said, it was a crazy night, Deandre Richardson’s 55-yard run on a fake punt opening the scoring for Bay. But it wasn’t crazy enough for the Tornadoes to produce a fanatical finish.