Oakman drops heartbreaker to Winfield

Excessive celebration penalty costs Wildcats in 20-19 loss

By GARY THRASHER, Eagle Sports Correspondent
Posted 10/4/19

OAKMAN — Malachi Bridges’ Hail Mary 32-yard touchdown heave to Christian Hubbard as time expired sent a packed Hosea Collins Field into a frenzy as the Oakman Wildcats appeared to be on the brink of a possible epic comeback win over the Winfield Pirates Friday night.

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Oakman drops heartbreaker to Winfield

Excessive celebration penalty costs Wildcats in 20-19 loss

Posted

OAKMAN — Malachi Bridges’ Hail Mary 32-yard touchdown heave to Christian Hubbard as time expired sent a packed Hosea Collins Field into a frenzy as the Oakman Wildcats appeared to be on the brink of a possible epic comeback win over the Winfield Pirates Friday night.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

In a tragic twist, Oakman was penalized for excessive celebration, taking away any possibility of a two-point attempt. With the ball moved back to the 25-yard line, even the extra point try was far from routine.

Malachi Bridges kick fell agonizingly short and a euphoric Oakman throng fell deathly silent while the Pirate faithful on the opposite side of the field broke into pandemonium as Winfield held off a valiant Oakman Willdcat squad 20-19 in a game for the ages.

The preceding 59 minutes featured it all. Turnovers, hard tackling, and sensational plays on offense on both sides. The game got off to a rocky start for Winfield, as Fernando Hernandez recovered a mishandled Pirate opening kickoff return at the Winfield five yard line. Two plays later Bridges hit Logan Martin for a four yard touchdown to give Oakman an early 7-0 lead just 43 seconds into the game. Winfield responded quickly. Joshua Rodriguez’s six-yard burst for paydirt made it 7-7 with 9:42 still to play in the first quarter. With 6:51 left until halftime, Rodriguez would score again, this time untouched from six yards out. Oakman responded in kind as the Bridges to Martin tandem hooked up again through the air for a 13-yard touchdown strike. Bridges extra point attempt was wide right, however, and Oakman still trailed 14-13 with 2:02 left to play in the first half.

Down by one to open the second half, the Wildcats marched downfield on their first possession but the drive ultimately stalled, and Bridges 35-field goal attempt was wide right. After a scoreless, but not uneventful third quarter, where both squads engaged in a battle of wills, Winfield appeared to put the game out of reach when Joshua Rodriguez exploded down the right sideline for a 31-yard touchdown dagger with 1:33 left in the game. ‘

But somebody didn’t send Oakman the memo.

The Wildcats would march relentlessly downfield to get within striking distance. On fourth down from the Winfield 32, Hubbard leaped high into the air to wrestle the ball away from the Pirate defender to set up the final moments.

After the game, Oakman head coach Ryan Hall was almost at a loss for words. “I’m proud of our kids and hats off to Winfield. They played a great football game and had a great plan. We had some penalties but they did, too.” “But it is what it is,” he went on to say. “Even though we lost we’re going to have to hold our heads high and be men.”