Perkins Pirates fall by one point on last play to Bellevue Redmen

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Pirates running back Austin Sparks follows a block on a carry in the first quarter of the Division III, Regional Semifinal game between Perkins and Bellevue at Robert Bishop Jr. Stadium in Clyde on Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Pirates quarterback Brandon Smith rolls out for a pass to running back Austin Sparks during the first quarter of the Division III, Regional Semifinal game between Perkins and Bellevue at Robert Bishop Jr. Stadium in Clyde on Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Redmen quarterback Jalen Santoro drops back for a pass during the second quarter of the Division III, Regional Semifinal game between Perkins and Bellevue at Robert Bishop Jr. Stadium in Clyde on Saturday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Pirates wide receiver Dale Irby reels in a pass in the third quarter of the Division III, Regional Semifinal game between Perkins and Bellevue at Robert Bishop Jr. Stadium in Clyde on Saturday.

CLYDE — Following an interception of Perkins quarterback Brandon Smith by Nick Raifsnider with 30 seconds left and the Pirates leading 27-21, Bellevue’s Jalen Santoro knew it was his team’s game to win. And it was.

Santoro stunned the Pirates and their fans with a touchdown pass to Trent Stamm as time expired to carry Bellevue to a 28-27 win in the Division III, Region 10 Semifinal at Robert J. Bishop Jr. Stadium on Saturday night.

Raifsnider returned the interception to Perkins’ 42, and aided by a personal foul by Dale Irby with four seconds left, the Redmen (11-1) tied the game on a 12-yard strike from Santoro to Trent Stamm — his only catch of the night. Two missed extra points by Perkins’ (10-2) Matt Cremean allowed Bellevue’s kicker Jake Strayer to win the game with the extra point.

“We tried to get (Stamm) a good matchup,” Bellevue coach Ed Nasonti said. “When we came out, (Perkins was) actually double-teaming him, so we actually killed the play and we ran a different play. Then Jalen scrambled, and Stamm actually came across from the right side. The play was originally designed to go to him anyway.

“In 32 years of coaching, 22 as a head coach, I’ve never been a part of anything like this — a game that ended like this, was on such a big stage and meant so much.”

Perkins took the 27-21 lead thanks to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Irby in the third quarter. Cremean missed the extra point, which proved to be the difference.

The interception by Raifsnider was the only turnover of the game, and it came on a drive after Perkins stopped Bellevue on a fourth down inside the Pirates’ 20-yard line. Perkins forced Bellevue to burn its final time out on the drive and had the ball at the Redmen 31-yard line facing a 4th-and-6 when Smith dropped back to pass.

“At the end of the game there, we made a decision to try to get the fourth down,” Perkins coach Jason Ziegler said. “And it didn’t work out that way. They had a chance there and the quarterback and receiver made a big play. I give all the credit to Bellevue.

“It was a great football game. Unfortunately for us, we lost.”

Santoro threw for 60 yards and rushed for 186, accounting for all four of Bellevue’s touchdowns, two of which came on the ground. Perkins’ Mitchell Benkey also had two touchdowns and rushed for 199 yards on 21 carries in his last high school game.

Cremean missed an extra point in the first quarter, but a two-point conversion following Benkey’s second touchdown tied the score at 14 going into the half.

The two teams traded scores in the third before Irby’s second touchdown gave Perkins the lead late in the third. The Pirates’ defense stopped Bellevue on fourth down when Benkey and Irby stopped Matt Dudek on a screen pass inside Perkins’ 20 with 5:30 to go.

“When they missed the extra point in the second half, that opened the door for us,” Nasonti said. “I thought we were going to get it on the drive before when we were down there. We went to the well one too many times with the screen pass (on fourth down).”

Bellevue handed Perkins both of its losses this season as the Redmen defeated the Pirates 27-16 in the first game of the season. 11 weeks later, Santoro burned the Pirates one last time. Ziegler felt his team played well enough to win the game, but just failed to finish Bellevue off.

“I thought both sides of the ball fought valiantly and did a nice job,” Ziegler said. “It just came down to the end, the last second play. Obviously, they got it done and unfortunately for us and our season, we didn’t.”

Bellevue 28, Perkins 27

Division III, Region 10 Semifinal

Perkins (10-2) 6 8 13 0 — 27

Bellevue (11-1) 7 7 7 7 — 28

Scoring

B — Jalen Santoro 47 run (Jake Strayer kick)

P — Mitchell Benkey 56 run (kick failed)

B — Alec Haynes 18 pass from Santoro (Strayer kick)

P — Benkey 42 run (Benkey pass from Brandon Smith)

P — Dale Irby 56 pass from Smith (Matt Cremean kick)

B — Santoro 3 run (Strayer kick)

P — Irby 13 pass from Smith (kick failed)

B — Trent Stamm 12 pass from Santoro (Strayer kick)

Statistics

First Downs — P 20, B 17.

Yards Rushing — P 292 (Benkey 199), B 281 (Santoro 186).

Yards Passing — P 104 (Irby 75), B 60 (Derek Smith 29.

Passes Att.-Comp.-Int — P 12-6-1, B 11-5-0.

Fumbles-Lost — P 0-0, B 0-0.

Penalties-Yards — P 5-38, B 3-35.

@Bielik_Tim

Last Updated: 11/10/2012 11:18:41 PM EST

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