Like often happens in sports, a close and controversial call that went against the Lindbergh High football team Friday night, might have made the difference, as the Flyers played their final home game of the season at Flyers Field on the Lindbergh campus.
Wide receiver-turned quarterback Chuck Houska hit tight end Brad MacKeen for a sprint out pass that looked like a touchdown that would’ve pulled Lindbergh to within seven points early in the fourth quarter.
Instead though, the officials ruled that MacKeen didn’t break the plane of the goalline on the 4th-and-goal play, and in fact, did not score, which gave the ball back to visiting Mehlville, which held on for a 14-2 win over the Flyers.
“It’s really tough when a call like that goes against you,” Lindbergh head coach Tom Beauchamp said. “But you can’t dwell on that. I just wish we had played better in the first half. Then maybe, we wouldn’t have been down by two touchdowns to begin with.”
The Flyers did swarm the Mehlville ballcarrier on the next play for a safety, but that was the only points Lindbergh could muster on a night when it was forced to play without nine starters, according to Beauchamp, that were out injured.
“It’s hard to play with that many guys out,” the coach said. “But that’s how it goes sometimes. Still though, we could’ve played better in that first half.”
There’s no doubt about that, as Lindbergh could point to improvements needed in all three phases of its game on Friday.
The Flyer offense had just three first downs in the first half, while the defense allowed three scoring drives as well.
Lindbergh also failed on another 4th-and-goal attempt later in the fourth quarter and also had a turnover, as it didn’t score any points at all on offense.
But the main culprit, at least in the first half, was the special teams unit, and the punt team in particular, which had two early mishaps that helped set up Mehlville’s first two scores.
First, the Flyers allowed a blocked a punt deep in their own territory. Then later, the Lindbergh punter shanked a punt that went just nine yards upfield, and once again gave Mehlville the ball in very short striking distance.
Both drives ended with field goals by Panther junior Justin Massey, which put Mehlville up 6-0 early in the second quarter.
The big play of the game though, came on Mehlville’s next possession, when junior quarterback Brendan Moore saw the entire left side of the field open up as he dropped back for a pass that was actually intended to go to his right.
The 6’1, 190-pounder didn’t even hesitate.
He broke for the open area near the left sideline, and ran completely untouched for 42 yards and a touchdown, that along with his two-point conversion run on the next play, gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead just before halftime.
“I just saw the whole side open up over there, and I just went for it,” Moore said. “It felt so good to make a big play for my team. I’m just so excited.”
Lindbergh had one final possession late in the fourth quarter. But that drive also ended on a failed 4th down conversion, as the Flyers fell to 3-6, while Mehlville improved to 2-7 on the year.
With the regular season now completed, both clubs will now wait for an official announcement later this weekend, on who they will face in the first round of the district playoffs, which begin statewide next week.
Mehlville will most likely play fellow league rival Eureka (7-2) next Friday night in Eureka, while Lindbergh, which celebrated its more than 100 seniors on the football, band, cheerleading and dance teams, and their parents, in ceremonies before the game and during halftime, seems likely headed for a matchup against Parkway South, Friday night at South.
Score by Quarters ... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 -- Final
Mehlville .................. 3 .. 11 .. 0 ... 0 -- 14
Lindbergh ............... 0 .... 0 ... 0 ... 2 -- 2Scoring Summary
1st QuarterMehl - Austin Massey 24 yd field goal -- 6:49 ......................................... 3-0
Mehl - Austin Massey 31 yd field goal -- 7:37 ......................................... 6-0
Mehl - Brandon Moore 42 yd run (Brandon Moore run) -- 3:10 ............ 14-0
Lind - Safety (defense tackled ballcarrier in own end zone) -- 10:38 .... 14-2