by Frank Aceto
ASSOCIATE SPORTS EDITOR
Peninsula -- They won't make the playoffs and they won't win a division title.
But the Southeast Pirates will have lasting memories of their final game of the 2012 season.
Southeast finished the season with a 7-3 record overall and a 6-1 mark in the Portage Trail Conference County Division after posting a thrilling 44-37 victory over Woodridge Friday night at Lahoski Field in Peninsula.
The game came down to one play.
Facing a fourth-and-eight situation at Woodridge's 43-yard line with less than 90 seconds remaining, Southeast quarterback Jordan Krych completed an eight-yard pop pass to Trevor Norquest for a first down.
Since the Bulldogs had no time-outs left, the Pirates were able to run out the clock.
"We didn't want to punt it because it would have given them [the Bulldogs] time to score," Southeast head coach Steve Sigworth said. "We had two options -- to either go to our tight end or Trevor.
"I'm so elated for our seniors. They had a tough loss against Mogadore and it's great to beat a good team like Woodridge."
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs (7-3, 5-2) qualified for the Division III playoffs. Eighth-seeded Woodridge was scheduled to visit top-seeded Chagrin Falls (9-1) in a Division III, Region 9 quarterfinal game. Results were not available at press time.
The winner is set to play the Cleveland John Hay-Ravenna winner Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
"I don't think about yesterday or tomorrow," Bulldogs head coach Eric Ervin said. "I'm thinking about right now and we lost."
The Pirates jumped out to a 14-0 lead, thanks to a couple of 80-yard drives that featured a heavy dose of carries from running backs Brandon Olson and Cody Kollar.
Woodridge responded with its quick-strike offense to score 21 unanswered points. Two of those plays were long passes by Bulldogs quarterback Sean McCoy to Brett Schroeder.
McCoy connected with Schroeder on a 56-yard TD pass to get Woodridge on the board and a 72-yard scoring pass to give the Bulldogs a 21-14 advantage.
Then the Pirates regained the momentum.
Southeast tied the game at 21 when Krych connected with Kade Norquest on a 42-yard TD pass.
That was just the beginning.
In a span of less than a minute, Southeast scored nine points to take a 30-21 lead. The Pirates got two points when a Bulldogs' snap went out of the end zone, then Southeast made it 30-21 when Olson scored on a 51-yard run.
It went back and forth from there until Woodridge tied it at 37 when a bevy of Bulldogs tackled Krych in the end zone with 11:03 left in the game.
The Pirates scored the go-ahead touchdown in smash-mouth style to take the lead for good. Southeast put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took more than four minutes to complete.
Olson, who finished with a game-high 236 yards on 29 carries and three-second-half TDs, capped the drive with a 14-yard run.
"We wanted to run the ball and keep possession," Sigworth said. "That was our game plan. We know how explosive their offense is."
This wasn't a surprise for Ervin and that's why it was so frustrating for him to witness.
"That's part of their game," he said. "We knew they were going to grind it out and we had to stop them. It's frustrating. I'm sure they were frustrated that we had guys wide open all the time."
Brandon James had a three-yard TD run to open the scoring for Southeast. Kollar added a two-yard TD run to make it 14-0.
Olson also had a 61-yard TD run. McCoy, who threw for 252 yards, added a four-yard TD run and Woodridge running back John Reid added a four-yard TD run.
Tre'von Burgins had a 73-yard kickoff return for the Bulldogs to cut Southeast's lead to 37-35 late in the third quarter.
The Pirates outgained Woodridge 565-328.