Saturday, October 25, 2014

Anderson's return lifts Braves to miracle victory

By Greg Mast/Herald Sports Editor | 10/1/2012

HILLSBORO — Donald Anderson was determined to not let anyone catch him as he ran from one end zone to another Saturday at Hillsboro.

The Ottawa University senior defensive back recovered a fumble about six yards deep in Tabor end zone. He picked it up and sped the other way. Somewhere during the run he started to cramp up. He kept his legs churning as his teammates joined him for the convoy and ran interference.

HILLSBORO — Donald Anderson was determined to not let anyone catch him as he ran from one end zone to another Saturday at Hillsboro.

The Ottawa University senior defensive back recovered a fumble about six yards deep in Tabor end zone. He picked it up and sped the other way. Somewhere during the run he started to cramp up. He kept his legs churning as his teammates joined him for the convoy and ran interference.

He made one move at the 15-yard line to avoid a Tabor tackler coming up from behind. His 100-yard return (the official distance) tied a school, conference and NAIA record and gave Ottawa a heart-stopping 25-21 win over Tabor.

“That was a long ways,” Anderson said.

It appeared Ottawa needed a miracle. Tabor, which led 21-18, intercepted a tipped pass and had the ball at the Ottawa 3 with 1:37 remaining.

The Bluejays could have nearly ran out the time by kneeling on the ball, but decided to try to score.

Quarterback Simon McKee ran into the teeth of the defense and held out the ball to try to get it across the goal line. Ottawa defensive end Zach Van Duesen knocked the ball out of McKee’s hands.

The ball rolled about six yards into the end zone.

“He ran it to the right and he reached out ... Van Duessen stripped him,” Anderson said. “I scooped it up. I took off. I cramped up halfway. Luckily Logan Schultz was lead blocking for me and I was able to score. I cut off him and pushed it to the end zone.”

The Braves believe if there is time left on the clock, the game is not over.

“We never stopped believing we had this game,” Anderson said. “That is the thing about this team. We kept fighting. We don’t give up on each other. We had to make a play. It was one of the better wins I have had in my career. It was a team victory.”

Matt Bollig, who was injured during the summer in a freak accident, attended the game in his wheelchair. Anderson told Bollig afterwards that was for him.

“We are coming together,” Anderson said. “You have to make things happen.”

Ottawa coach Kent Kessinger preaches to his team to play the full 60 minutes.

“In the end, it is the team that plays the full 60 minutes,” Kessinger said. As many times we have not got a break this year, we got it on that one.

“It was a game with a lot emotion on both sides. It was a classy battle.”

Ottawa defensive coordinator Josh Homolka tells his defensive players to concentrate on one play at a time.

“Win the play, win the play,” he said. “We got in a bad situation. It shows our guys do play hard.

“We will grow more and more. A little luck went our way. Hopefully that washed away some of the bad things this season.”

Ottawa battled from behind all game. Sterling led 14-3 early in the second quarter and was up 21-12 with 10:35 remaining in the third quarter.

“Tabor did a lot of good stuff,” Kessinger said as the Bluejays rolled up 404 yards of offense.

Homolka said, “They have good players. Coach Mike Gardner does a good job.”

Ottawa battled back behind the arm of senior quarterback Shane Gimzo, who was 19 of 29 for 277 yards.

“Shane is getting better throwing the ball,” Kessinger said. “We had some big catches.

“We thought we could go against their corners. Travis Adamson comes up with a big catch on a third down play.”

That play kept alive an 86-yard touchdown drive that pulled Ottawa within 21-18 early in the fourth quarter.

The win tightened the conference race with Ottawa, Friends, Tabor, McPherson and Southwestern have won loss and are sitting behind Kansas Wesleyan

The conference is tough this year,” Homolka said.

Ottawa (2-3, 2-1) plays 7 p.m. Saturday at home against Southwestern.

Scoring

T — McKee 4 run (Cannon kick).

O — Stamp 46 FG.

T — Monroe 75 run (Cannon kick).

O — Stamp 32 FG.

O — Croson 56 pass from Gimzo (kick blocked).

T — McKee 1 run (Gannon kick).

O — Hilliger 19 pass from Gimzo (kick failed).

O — Anderson 100 fumble return (Stamp kick).

Individuals

Rushing — Ottawa (39-91): Hayes 10-35; Gimzo 22-34; Baer 5-22; Tabor (61-335): Monroe 20-154; McKee 28-139; Harrison 7-30; Rozzell 2-8.

Passing — Ottawa: Gimzo 19-29-2 277; McKee 4-11-1 69.

Receiving — Ottawa: Wilkerson 4-68; Hilliger 4-48; Adamson 4-46; Croson 2-64.

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