Slow starts and late comebacks have been a theme for Robinson High School's football team this season, but they have not produced much success.
The Maroons once again dug themselves an early hole, then fought back furiously only to fall just short in a 28-26 loss to Paris in a Little Illini Conference contest (Oct. 18).
"We just waited too long to play football, which has pretty much been the story of the season," RHS head coach Casey Pinnell said. "I am proud of this group for their effort and battling back from 21-0 and 28-6 to make it a football game, but we just came out flat for whatever reason."
Paris struck quickly, as running back Coy Landrum broke free for an 85-yard touchdown run just 59 seconds into the game to give Paris a 7-0 lead. The Tigers tacked on two more scores in less than three minutes late in the period, as Nathan Zorn scored on a one-yard run at the 4:19 mark and Danny Perry tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to Mason Hutchings with 1:32 left to make the score 21-0.
"We just didn't come to play in the first quarter," Pinnell said.
Robinson was able to get on the board in the second quarter on a Tyler Beard eight-yard touchdown run to get within 21-6 at the 10-23 mark, but a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by Chase Hays with 1:08 remaining gave Paris a 28-6 advantage at halftime.
As they have for much of the season, the Maroons dominated play for most of the second half. Beard was able to find the end zone twice more on runs of two and 12 yards in a span of 1:24, as well as a two-point conversion run to close the gap to 28-20 heading into the fourth quarter. The two touchdowns were sandwiched around a Paris fumble on the kickoff after the first touchdown, which opened the door for the Maroons to climb back in the game.
Robinson thwarted a potential scoring drive by Paris early in the fourth quarter, forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs after they had first-and-goal. The Maroons took advantage, with Ely Parker connecting with Levi Dickerson for an 18-yard touchdown pass to pull within 28-26 with 4:07 remaining. Still trailing by two, the Maroons needed a two-point conversion to tie the game.
On the ensuing attempt, the Maroons were called for a delay of game penalty despite their efforts to get a time-out called before the play clock ran out. As a result, that pushed RHS back five yards, which meant the two-point attempt came from the eight-yard line instead of the three. Now in a passing situation instead of being able to call a run play like they wanted, Parker took the snap and rolled out to pass, but the receivers ran the wrong direction and Parker was taken down and unable to convert the two-point try.
"The referee said he didn't hear me calling for a time-out, but I still think we got the snap off in time," Pinnell said. "Regardless, that penalty hurt us, but it is not the reason we lost the game."
Unfortunately, the Maroons were unable to get the ball back and Paris ran out the clock to send the Maroons to yet another close loss.
"We tried to use our time-outs and get the ball back, but they just got one too many first downs," Pinnell said. "Give credit to Paris, they are a group that knows how to finish and win. We're not there yet."
Beard again led RHS, rushing for 193 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries. Garrett Florkowski added 39 yards on the ground, while Parker ran for 32 yards and threw for 23 including a touchdown, Wes Jackson ran for 28 yards and completed two passes for 15 yards and Dickerson was the leading receiver with his 18-yard touchdown catch.
Landrum led Paris with 130 yards rushing and a touchdown, although he gained just 45 yards after his long touchdown run in the first quarter. Perry completed 6-11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, with Hutchings catching five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown and Zorn adding 30 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
At Crosby Field, Robinson
Paris 21 7 0 0 - 28
Robinson 0 6 14 6 - 26
PHS 1Q (11:01) Coy Landrum 85 run (Ethan Graham kick)
PHS 1Q (4:19) Nathan Zorn 1 run (kick failed)
PHS 1Q (1:32) Danny Perry 5 pass to Mason Hutchings (Perry run)