St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Hail Mary answers Central prayers

A 96-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds left caps the Bears' furious rally for a 33-29 victory.

BOB CHEESMAN
Published October 30, 2004

BROOKSVILLE - The Central High Bears needed a miracle Friday night and a miracle was what they got.

Quarterback Shane Collard connected on a 96-yard pass play to Mark Tombrink with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter, lifting the Bears to a 33-29 comeback victory over the Leesburg Yellowjackets.

"We got lucky, but we'll take it," said Central coach John Wilkinson of the Hail Mary. "You draw the play that way - to go the 96 yards ... but it doesn't always work out that way."

Central's Bryan Nutter recovered a fumble early in the first quarter which resulted in a 45-yard field goal by Steven Bock and a 3-0 Bears lead.

The Bears (7-2) led 10-0 early in the second before Leesburg scored 19 unanswered points, taking a 19-10 lead into the half.

"We went to sleep in the second quarter," Wilkinson said. "Our guys came out after halftime knowing what they had to do to win, and they did it."

Collard rushed for 163 of Central's 297 rushing yards to lead a high-octane Bear offense that accumulated more than 400 yards. Gary Owen added 55 yards and two second-half touchdown runs.

Leesburg held a 22-20 lead midway through the fourth when quarterback Tyler Hill ran 34 yards for a touchdown, giving the Yellowjackets (2-7) a 29-20 lead.

On the first play after the ensuing kick, Collard broke through the Leesburg defense with a 66-yard run, setting up a 2-yard score by Owen and cutting the Yellowjacket lead to three. Hill led Leesburg with 176 yards rushing as Central had difficulties stopping Leesburg's option, which gained 319 total yards.

Central plays at Hernando High Friday night in Brooksville.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.