Saturday, October 02, 1999

Holmes 28, Conner 25

Bulldogs lose 21-point lead but get victory

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Holmes defenders close in on Conner's Matt Botts.
(Josh Biggs photo)
| ZOOM |
        HEBRON — By any definition, Holmes' football team suffered a snakebit season last year. This fall, though, the Bulldogs are biting back.

        Friday, about to collapse at Conner, Holmes revived its perfect season with one pretty play. Facing third-and-16 with 1:26 left, senior quarterback Brian Ferguson scrambled and hit classmate Jerry Weaver with the winning 34-yard touchdown.

        Holmes 28, Conner 25: The dream season now stands at 6-0.

        “I believe in our kids,” Holmes coach John Vander Meer said. “They can do whatever they want when they believe in themselves.”

        It's beginning to look a lot like the Holmes of old. The Bulldogs won seven or more games four times from 1990-95, winning four playoff games in that span and peaking with a regional championship appearance in 1995.

        But when Vander Meer arrived in '96, a strong class had just graduated, and the Bulldogs struggled adapting to his option offense. They went 11-21 the past three seasons, including 1-9 last year.

        Friday, Holmes lost a 21-point lead and dodged Conner's own apparent game-winning heroics. Cougar quarterback Jeremiah Giron threw what looked like a 48-yard TD to Jason Harris with 52 seconds left, but it was called back on an illegal motion penalty.

        Then the defense held. Cue a giant exhale.

        “It's a game of inches,” Vander Meer said. “Last year we lost these games.”

        Conner (2-3), which lost four first-quarter turnovers that helped dig a 21-0 deficit, stomached its toughest defeat.

        “Our kids played as hard as they can play,” Conner coach Tom Stellman said. “We played really well from the second quarter on.

        “But their athletes took over in the clutch. Their speed is incredible. They're the fastest team in Northern Kentucky.”

        Senior tailback Eddie Bane was proof of that, rushing for 223 yards and two TDs on 16 carries Friday. Holmes wins with big plays; it had a potential game-breaking 80-yard TD pass called back just before halftime.

        Alternating running backs Bo Wilson and Matt Botts, Conner ground out a comeback. Wilson rushed 30 times for 120 yards and a score; Botts added 106 yards and a TD on 17 carries.

        When Wilson scored on a 7-yard carry with 3:39 left to play, the Cougars had come all the way back to lead 25-21.

        “I challenged myself and my team to come back,” Ferguson said.

        Holmes' Marco Hallman returned the ensuing kickoff to his 47, and the Bulldogs drove until a holding penalty jeopardized their rally. On third-and-16, Ferguson faked a pass, dodged a rushing defender, then spotted Weaver.

        “I saw him scrambling, and I took a chance and went deep,” Weaver said. “Brian made a big play.”

        Said Vander Meer: “If you're going to win big football games, you've gotta make big plays like that.”

        Holmes now gets another biggie: a showdown next Friday at Dixie Heights (5-1).

        “This was a gut check,” Ferguson said. “Now we know we've got the confidence to win the close ones. We'll try to take this one at a time.”

        Holmes ....... 14   7  0   7—28

        Conner ....... 0  12  0  13—25

        H—Frazier 10 fumble return (Rankin kick)

        H—Bane 40 run (Rankin kick)

        H—Bane 89 run (Rankin kick)

        C—Botts 6 run (kick failed)

        C—Wilson 2 run (run failed)

        C—Giron 4 run (McDaniel kick)

        C—Wilson 7 run (pass failed)

        H—Weaver 34 pass from Ferguson (Rankin kick)

        Records: H 6-0 (1-0 District 5), C 2-3 (0-1).


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Anderson 35, Glen Este 14
Badin 14, Roger Bacon 7
Batavia 20, Hillsboro 19
Beechwood 52, Dayton 0
Bellevue 51, Holy Cross 6
Bethel-Tate 22, Williamsburg 20
Blanchester 14, East Clinton 0
Boone County 39, Campbell County 21
Bourbon County 22, Grant County 7
CHCA 42, North College Hill 27
Cincinnati Country Day 42, Summit Country Day 7
Clermont NE 14, Western Brown 6
Deer Park 35, Mariemont 19
East Central 20, Lawrenceburg 0
Edgewood 36, Dayton Stebbins 0
Elder 28, La Salle 10
Fairfield 28, Lakota East 7
Hamilton 14, Middletown 10
Harrison 18, Turpin 12
- Holmes 28, Conner 25
Hughes 41, Taft 14
Indian Hill 34, Finneytown 14
Kings 56, Little Miami 24
Lakota West 14, Colerain 3
Landmark Christian 47, New Miami 20
Lebanon 15, Loveland 7
Lemon-Monroe 27, Franklin 12
Mason 42, Amelia 7
Mason County 50, Lloyd 20
Middletown Madison 43, New Lebanon-Dixie 0
Mount Healthy 54, Woodward 23
New Richmond 14, Clinton Massie 7
Newport 36, Fleming County 14
Norwood 28, Wilmington 20
Purcell Marian 14, Kettering Alter 6
Ross 40, Goshen 0
Simon Kenton 31, Ryle 28
St. Xavier 21, Moeller 19
Sycamore 14, Princeton 10
Talawanda 20, Fenwick 19
Taylor 7, Reading 3
Western Hills 56, Aiken 19
Winton Woods 24, Northwest 0
Wyoming 29, Madeira 28