Trailing on the road 20-19 to Fairview Park in the fourth quarter Friday, Oberlin running back Devan Yarber swept left, turned the corner, and ran eight yards into the end zone.
The touchdown would have given the Phoenix a late lead to cap another brilliant performance by Yarber — but a holding call nullified the score. The penalty was a back-breaker for the Phoenix.
Two plays later, and after another penalty backed Oberlin up to the Warrior 26, the Phoenix faced fourth-and-19. Quarterback David Payne tried to force the ball over the middle to a double-covered Yarber at the three yard line but the pass was intercepted by John McQuate.
The (2-5) Warriors then ran out the clock, getting a first down by a nose to thwart the Phoenix (2-5).
The loss was galling for Oberlin, which led 19-7 at the half, ran the ball well all night, and made three interceptions.
“We’ve just got to stick together,” Phoenix coach Garrett Mack said. “We’ve improved a lot and there’s just things we’ve got to keep improving on.”
Yarber said the Phoenix need to stay positive. “We’ve got to keep practicing hard and working hard,” he said.
Oberlin began the game with a 77-yard drive capped by Payne throwing a six-yard touchdown pass to receiver Matt Stanfield on a left slant pattern. Nayib Besares’ extra point made it 7-0.
The Phoenix also scored on their second possession. The highlight of the 82-yard drive was Yarber’s spectacular 47-yard touchdown run in which he swept left, broke a tackle and then jetted down the sideline. However, Besares’ kick was wide left and the score was 13-0.
Defensive back Aaron Arnold picked off an option pass from Warriors running back Marty Rehor and returned it to the Phoenix 23 to set up Oberlin’s next score, a 77-yard touchdown drive showcasing Payne’s speed, footwork, and improvisational skill.
On third-and-goal from the three yard line, Payne rolled right. With no one open, he reversed field and threw against his body, finding Yarber in the left corner of the end zone. Besares had another costly missed extra point, but Oberlin led 19-0.
The Warriors followed with a 64-yard drive culminating with quarterback Tommy McNamara bulling is way up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown. Elion Bendo’s extra point made it 19-7 at the half.
The Warriors opened the third quarter with a 61-yard touchdown drive climaxed by McNamara throwing a 30-yard touchdown over the middle to McQuate. Bendo’s extra point closed Oberlin’s lead to 19-14.
Yarber and Revon Eissom continued to run well but the Warriors pressured Payne, who struggled to complete passes and convert first downs in the second half.
Fairview’s winning score came on a 46-yard drive. The Phoenix had a chance to end it with the Warriors facing fourth-and-10 from Oberlin’s 24.
“Big play right here,” Mack yelled to his defense. “Watch the ball.” But McNamara found a leaping McQuate in the right corner of the end zone for the a touchdown.
“I just knew I was going to catch that,” said McQuate, who caught five passes for 101 yards. “I had to do it for my team.”
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Photos by Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune Fairview Park quarterback Tommy Mcnamara led the Warriors on Friday in a 20-19 comeback defeat of Oberlin. He bulled his way up the middle for this 10-yard touchdown to cut the Phoenix lead to 19-7 at the half, then threw for two touchdowns in the second half.