Missed Opportunities: Horn unable to capitalize in area round loss to Skyline
RICHARDSON-Horn entered Saturday's clash against Skyline with what it felt was a good game plan and they executed it nearly flawlessly.
The Jaguars rolled up more than 600 yards of offense. They controlled the ball for more than 32 minutes, ran 85 offensive plays to 48 for the Raiders and they never punted.
But while Horn was machine-like in its ability to move up and down the field, there were some hiccups, particularly in the red zone, and they proved to be costly.
The Jaguars had four giveaways and turned the ball over on downs at the Skyline 1-yard line.
The seasoned Raiders knew just how to make them pay for those miscues and they did exactly that in the fourth quarter, running away late for a 47-28 victory in a Class 5A Division I area championship game at Wildcat-Ram Stadium.
Skyline (11-1) moves on to the regional semifinals where it will face either Spring Westfield or Austin Bowie next week, while Horn finishes the season with an 8-4 record.
"We really felt like we were capable of controlling the line of scrimmage and controlling the clock and we did," Horn head coach Rodney Webb said. "The thing we didn't count on was the mistakes, but that happened. They were mistakes we hadn't made all year and we did today. It's hard to beat a team like Skyline when you turn it over like we did today."
The Raiders scored 27 points in the fourth quarter, including a backbreaking kickoff return by Derrick Dixon, who scooped up an attempted onside kick and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown after Horn had closed to within 33-28 with 3:54 left.
Skyline turned a late interception into a scoring run by Jordan Stevenson to blow the game wide open at 47-28, but those are not the plays the Jaguars will remember during the offseason.
Horn had the ball in the red zone four times in the first half and came away with only nine points. Skyline stuffed them on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on the opening drive of the game and forced the Jaguars to settle for three field goals from Michael Sylvester on those other trips.
"They gave us a different goal line look than they had shown all year and we had a little bit of our delay in our adjustment," Webb said. "But I have to give them a lot of credit, they played real well down there near the goal line and we just didn't get the points we needed."
While the Jaguars were settling for field goals, Skyline relied on big plays in the first half, using a 64-yard touchdown run by Ellis Onic and a 57-yard scoring strike from Devante Kincaide to Ra'Shaad Samples to take a 13-9 lead.
Horn kept to the plan, though, and used a late 81-yard drive capped by a 37-yard touchdown pass from Destri White to Jarrison Stewart to take a 15-13 lead.
Skyline tried to answer in the waning seconds, but Hunter Harwell knocked away a pass in the end zone and Kamron Irving blocked a field goal as time expired to preserve the two-point lead and give the Jaguars a good feeling going into the locker room.
"We certainly did (leave points out there) but we also felt like they hadn't stopped us, either," Webb said. "We didn't come close to punting all day so even though we left some points on the board we felt like we were capable of scoring another 28 or 30 points in the second half, so we felt good about it."
Skyline sped up the tempo in the second half and it paid immediate dividends on a 77-yard drive, with Kincaide scoring on a 2-yard run to take a 20-15 lead.
The Jaguars countered again in methodical fashion, with a 10-play, 92-yard drive. White, who was 18-of-27 for 244 yards through the air to go along with 13 rushes for 83 yards, converted a key third down to Stewart and Del'Michael High made a fantastic one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone to give them a 21-20 advantage.
Skyline turned the ball over on downs on its next possession and Horn was poised to take control. The Jaguars again marched on the Raider defense and were within inches of extending its lead on a 23-yard run by Jay'lyn Lynch, but at the last second, Skyline poked the ball away and it went out the back of the end zone for a touchback.
It was another missed opportunity that would come back to haunt Horn. The Raiders immediately drove the length of the field, retaking the lead at 26-21 on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Kincaide to Samples on the first play of the fourth quarter.
"We had the ball down there and got three field goals, a touchdown and a missed fourth down so that was five times and 15 (points) could have easily been 35," Webb said. "Obviously, that would have been a big difference."
Horn's next drive ended on a fumble in Skyline territory and the Raiders turned that into a 16-yard touchdown run by Stevenson to push the lead to 33-21 with 5:12 left.
The Jaguars had one last gasp, quickly moving 70 yards in four plays. White hit Stewart for a 50-yard completion and then found Jacob Meyer in the flat for an 8-yard touchdown to close to within 33-28 with 3:54 left.
Skyline had only punted once all day itself, so Horn opted to try for an onside kick but it turned into disaster when a clean hop went right to Dixon and he raced 50 yards untouched for a backbreaking touchdown.
In addition to White, several other Horn players had big games. Treyvon Marsh (18 carries, 120 yards) and Lynch (9-95) helped the Jaguars roll up 363 yards on the ground. Stewart had three catches for 100 yards, while Meyer (5-60) and High (5-47) also had scoring catches.
Kincaide, one of the top prospects in the area, showed why by completing 12-of-16 passes for 264 yards and rushing 12 times for 102 yards. Samples had six catches for 195 yards, while Onic also topped the century mark with 117 yards on just nine carries.
It was a disappointing ending for the Jaguars, who had every reason to feel like they should be playing again next week. But in the big picture, Horn added another piece to the program's foundation, making the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season and advancing to the area round for the second time.
"We feel like we took a step forward," Webb said. "But we really feel like we are good enough to beat teams like that and it's just a shame it didn't happen today."