WESTERVILLE — One of the greatest games in Danville history came down to a two-point conversion that didn’t happen.
Austin Hazen dove to catch a Bryce Staats lob in the endzone, appearing to cradle the ball as he landed. However, none of the officials saw the play clearly, and it was finally ruled incomplete.
The controversial call left the Blue Devils two points short of tying the game, allowing the Newark Catholic Green Wave to escape with a 48-46 victory in Friday’s Division VI regional final at Westerville Central Warhawk Stadium.
“Yes. Yes, I did,” said Hazen after the game, when asked if he caught the ball. “I just hoped to come out and help this team in any way that I could. We wanted to win. We deserved to win. We worked really hard this season.”
“I think so. Didn’t call it,” said Danville head coach Ed Honabarger, when asked the same question. “Some go your way, some go against you.”
Danville (11-2) had just moved the ball 83 yards on five plays in under a minute with no timeouts. The big play on the drive was a bomb to Daniel Mickley — his only catch of the night — for 46 yards to the Newark Catholic 9. With 1:10 showing, Staats found Austin Morehouse in the back of the endzone to set up the potential game-tying conversion.
Taking the snap, Staats had to immediately dodge NC lineman Brenden Jurden, who charged uninhibited through the line. Suddenly surrounded by defenders, Staats lobbed the ball in the air to no one in particular. Hazen broke away from a defender and dove head-first.
The official in front of the play did not make an immediate call. Instead, he deferred to the umpire, who had been standing by the goalpost, well behind the play. After a pause, the umpire gave the incomplete signal.
“I’m pretty proud of the kids,” said Honabarger. “Nobody expected us to be where we were. Everybody figured we’d win five, six games if we were lucky. We won 11 games and won the league. One play away from still playing — at least, going to overtime.”
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