Seminole Ridge 23, Atlantic 20: Maxx Nielsen's FG sends Hawks to 6A regional final
Friday, November 26, 2010
by Matt Porter
The game could have turned on any one of several plays. Seminole Ridge is thankful Maxx Nielsen recovered to make the decisive one.
After missing an extra point in the second quarter, the senior kicker's 21-yard field goal with 3.5 seconds remaining gave the Hawks a 23-20 win over Atlantic on Friday night in the Class 6A regional semifinals.
Seminole Ridge travels to Orlando on Friday to play Dr. Phillips, a 45-0 winner over Orlando-Oak Ridge.
The snap wasn't perfect, but holder Ryan Bialczak pulled it together just in time.
"It feels amazing. I never thought I'd have to do that," Nielsen said. "It's one of the biggest rushes."
In a wild final two minutes, Hawks quarterback Trevor Vanscoy set up the winning kick with a 59-yard keeper with less than a minute remaining.
A personal foul call earlier on Seminole Ridge gave Atlantic the ball at the 25, and on the first play, senior quarterback Rudy Conde found senior Tavares Malcolm for a 25-yard touchdown. Nick Privitera's kick bounced off the left upright and in, tying the game at 20 with 4:34 left.
Seminole Ridge senior fullback Tyler Butler gained a crucial first down on fourth-and-2 with 2:49 left. But he almost became the goat, fumbling for the first time all season with 1:18 left. Atlantic took over at its own 28, and went long on three pass attempts. With 50.1 seconds left, Vanscoy charged up the middle of the field and left the defense in the dust.
"It's about big plays in the postseason. They had theirs, and we had ours," Seminole Ridge coach Matt Dickmann said. "Luckily ours came at the end of the game."
Nielsen's kick ended Atlantic's season, but the Eagles almost emerged a winner. It was fitting that a somber postgame huddle ended with a chorus of 'defense,' as the Hawks gained just just 49 yards (33 rushing, 16 passing) in the first half.
"I was pleased with the effort. I really was," Atlantic coach Chris Bean said. "We played hard."
Atlantic's Tevin Spells couldn't be stopped early on. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound sophomore gained 121 yards on 10 carries in the first half. He set up both of Atlantic's touchdowns with several gains up the middle, setting up Abdud Narcisse and Marcus Gaskins for short touchdown runs.
Spells gained 37 yards on four carries in the second half.
Seminole Ridge's defense threw the first punch, as cornerback Omar Pierre-Louis snatched a tipped Conde pass and took it 22 yards for a touchdown. Atlantic sophomore Brisly Estime took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards before Hawks senior Thomas Fragale caught him at the 6, but the Hawks shut down the Eagles' passing game. Conde was 6-fot-14 with 79 yards and two interceptions.
Seminole Ridge's special teams saved the half, as senior Alex Malsbury charged and blocked a punt at the 28. The Hawks downed it at the 6, and three plays later, Butler tied the game at 13. Neilsen's extra point missed wide, but when it counted most, his aim was true.
"My team got me back up," Nielsen said. "They said 'You've got this, move on to the next one, we might need to you at the end of the game."