The 2011 edition of the National District’s “Bird Bowl” between the and the featured eight touchdowns and twenty-eight penalties.
It also featured parents huddled in blankets and sleeping bags on a 45 degree night, boys with no shirts, girls in halter tops and painted bellies, accusations of poor officiating, and a last-minute decision to try to run up the score on a hated rival. Edison needed a win at home on their Senior Night to clinch a playoff birth but didn’t have enough firepower or bulk and fell 35-21 in a contest that was close but never really in doubt.
The result sent the Hawks, (8-2, 6-1) into the playoffs on a high note and ended theEagles’ (4-6, 4-3) season. Hayfield was led by sophomore quarterback Ellis Knudson, who threw three touchdown passes, one to his brother, Hayden, and ran for one as well. The Hawks also dominated on the ground, rushing for 257 yards - 143 of those from senior Steven Lynch and 89 from Steven Ross. Neither coach was thrilled with their team’s performance but the Hawks’ coach, Roy Hill was relieved to get the win.
“We expected Edison to give us all they had, it was their senior night and they needed to win to get into the playoffs,” he said. “They have a lot of talented kids and they needed this one but our guys showed a lot of perseverance to get the win.”
Hayfield opened the scoring with four and a half minutes to go in the first quarter, when Ellis Knudson connected with big brother Hayden on a 53 yard touchdown strike, and the younger Knudson increased the lead to 14-0 midway through the second quarter with a quarterback sneak on a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line. It was difficult to tell if Knudson actually crossed the plane of the goalline and Edison coach Anthony Parker said after the game that he didn’t think that he got in.
“It didn’t look like a touchdown and I know the officials will be evaluated on their performance, so I’ll have to send a copy of the game tape to our association,” he said. “I think the calls went both ways; maybe they evened out in the end.”
After Hayfield failed to recover an onside kick attempt, Edison narrowed the lead to 14-7 just 38 seconds later when senior quarterback Charles Clark hooked up with senior wide receiver Jarvis Clark on a nifty 24 yard pass play. On their next possession, the Eagles drove deep into Hayfield territory and appeared poised to tie the game, but defensive back Anthony Conner came up with a huge interception on the Hawks’ 15 yard line, and then senior tight end Justin Dill caught a three yard touchdown pass with just nine seconds left in the first half on the ensuing drive to up the lead to 20-7.
After a scoreless third quarter both teams scored twice in the fourth quarter, though the Eagles never managed to narrow the score beyond the 13 point spread. Hawks’ receiver Leroy Alexander waltzed into the end zone untouched on a 19 yard pass play at 11:17, then the Hawks countered with a score of their own when Clark scored on a 9 yard quarterback sneak on the next possession. But Hawks’ running back Steven Ross essentially iced the game, skirting through the line on a 3 yard touchdown run with just 2:43 remaining to widen the bulge to 35-13.
Hayfield squibbed the kickoff and managed to recover the ball. With just over a minute left and a 25 point lead, they elected to try to run up the score by going for another touchdown pass, rather than simply keeping the ball on the ground and eating clock. The pass was incomplete and on the next down the Eagles recovered a fumble, sending their spirited crowd into a frenzy. On the next play, Clark hooked up with Nick Stansfield on a beautiful 86 yard touchdown pass that came too late to change the outcome but was perhaps a dose of poetic justice against a team that may have gotten a bit greedy late in the contest.
“They did the same thing last year,” Parker said after the game, referring to the attempt to pass the ball at the end of a lopsided game. “I think when you’re in a rivalry game you just want to beat them down as much as possible and we hope to turn it around next year and do the same thing to them next year.”
Hill, for his part, was also displeased with the officials but is expecting big things from his team in the playoffs.
“They’ve worked hard all season,” he said. “It’s a young, inexperienced group but they’ve done a great job and have benefited from a great coaching staff.”