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TCA's fortunes take turn for the worse on series of plays at the end of the first half
Everyone knew there would be pressure on The Classical Academy freshman quarterback Austin Bervig’s shoulders during his first varsity start Saturday in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
You then toss in two costly turnovers by the Titans, a series of dropped passes and a defensive miscue at the end of the first half and that pressure would be insurmountable for any quarterback or any team at this time of year.
Therefore, No. 4 TCA's 21-0 loss to No. 14 Delta should come as no great surprise.
“We knew things were going to be difficult with all of the injuries we had,” said coach Dave Bervig, whose team lost starting quarterback Jantzen Ryals to a broken collarbone in last week's regular-season finale. “We knew we were going to have to play hard and this was a good team. We just had some things that didn’t go our way.”
Delta (8-3) struck first after Austin Bervig’s intended pass for Joey Trese was tipped by the wide receiver and snatched by defensive back Saul Sanchez. Zach Decker then broke loose down the right sideline for 42 yards to give Delta a 7-0 lead with 3:44 left in the first quarter.
“I got outside to score and knew we were going to win it from there on,” Decker said.
He finished with a game-high 143 yards on 23 carries.
Bervig led all Titan rushers with 69 yards and put TCA (9-2) in position to tie the game late in the first half with a 26-yard scamper down to the 10-yard line. But on third-and-goal the freshman’s intended pass to Alex Willis was dropped in the end zone and Kyle Jacob followed with a missed 26-yard field goal.
The freshman finished 7-of-23 for 52 yards and two interceptions.
It was a crucial turn of events as TCA was then caught out of position on Delta’s next drive with 6.5 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Titans had stacked the box at midfield expecting run, but with the clock winding down Delta QB Michael Whiteside hit Chris Black on a quick slant and the receiver broke free from two defenders for a 47-yard touchdown to extend the Delta lead to 14-0.
“What kind of turned the game was when if we could have tied it up 7-7, they don’t go in and throw that long score that gets us down 14-zip,” Bervig said. “That was the spot where it turned.”
Delta received an early Christmas gift to start the second half when Andrew Register fumbled at his own 44 on the Titans' first drive. Delta responded by marching into the end zone on a 10-play drive when Robert Williams found a hole off tackle to give the Panthers a 21-0 lead with 5:23 left in the third.
Delta coach Ben Johnson credited his defense for controlling the game during a blustery afternoon that had occasional snow flurries. The Panthers held TCA to 171 offensive yards and forced three turnovers.
“In the playoffs turnovers are such a crucial part of it. If you can get turnovers more often than not you’re the one winning the football game.”