ALBANY -- This wasn’t the way Albany wanted to end its regular season, but at least the Hornets can take some solace in the fact they’ll be playing in the Class 3A playoffs.
Loranger quarterback Jacob Messina scored on a 7-yard keeper, and Beau Landry hit the extra point to give the Wolves a 35-34 overtime victory over Albany in the District 7-3A finale for both teams Friday at Jessie Fletcher Memorial Stadium.
Loranger’s win spoiled a furious 21-point comeback from Albany in the second half and also put a damper on Justin Parrish’s 328-yard, four-touchdown effort.
“We knew it was going to be a close ball game. We were going to have to fight for everything we got tonight,” Albany coach Mike Janis said. “Our kids just offensively, played incredible. I think we ran four different plays tonight, and it was just a beauty to watch us run power. They did a great job.
“It was a great football game. If you’re a fan, you’ve got to enjoy it. Our kids battled. They played extremely well in the second half, for sure.”
Albany (6-4, 0-4) got the ball at the Loranger 10 to begin overtime, where Nick Pregeant’s 2-yard keep three plays later put the Hornets ahead. From there, the dominoes began to fall as Orlando Pineda missed the extra point, giving the Hornets a 34-28 lead.
“Somebody from Loranger got pressure up the middle and got a hand on the ball,” Janis said of the PAT attempt. “It just scraped off to the side there. The kid kicked the ball well. Unfortunately in that instance, they made a play and we didn’t.”
Loranger (2-8, 1-3) took over and on third down, Messina was sacked by Chase Robertson. Albany, however, was flagged for a facemask on the play, setting up the game-winning TD run and PAT.
“That was a big play, and the kid wasn’t trying to grab his facemask,” Janis said. “I thought it was accidental for sure, but it is what it is. He (Robertson) told me he got the facemask, but he was just trying to make a sack. He did a great job getting pressure on the quarterback and getting to him. The quarterback kind of put his head down where his hand was going, and unfortunately the hand touched the facemask. They got the call, but that would have been pretty huge for us.”
Albany trailed 21-7 at halftime, but after forcing a Loranger punt, went to work on its comeback with Parrish skirting the left sideline on a 57-yard TD run on the fourth play of the drive, cutting the lead to 21-14.
Parrish scored again two drives later, busting a 63-yard TD run to tie the game at 21-all with 10:01 to play.
“I just wanted to give my all,” Parrish said, a senior, said of playing on Senior Night. “I wanted to give a show to the crowd and to have no feeling that I left anything behind.
“They were doing whatever they had to do,” Parrish said of his offensive line. “They were just giving me a hole. I told them, ‘just block for me. I’m going to put ya’ll on my back.’”
On the next Loranger drive, the Wolves lost a fumble following a completed pass, which Rhett Wolfe scooped up and returned to the Loranger 40.
Parrish made the Wolves pay for the turnover with a 40-yard TD burst on the next play to give the Hornets a 28-21 lead with 5:06 to play.
“Justin did a great job finding the holes, and that’s something we talked about,” Janis said. “We knew they were going to crowd the box on us and go cover zero, and we preached if we could a crease, there would be nobody left because there’s no safety (and) we can take some to the house, and we did.”
The Wolves, however, weren’t done as Messina went 3-for-6 for 81 yards passing on the ensuing drive, including a 37-yard TD pass to Xavier Green which tied the game at 28 with 2:10 to play.
“Hats off to Loranger,” Janis said. “They scored there at the end. We’re looking like (we’re) about to walk off, take a knee and win the game, and they get a big completion on third-and-long that ties the game up unfortunately for us.”
The Albany comeback was also sparked by its defense, which held Loranger running back Courtney Alexander to 19 yards on 10 carries in the second half after he rushed for 105 on eight carries in the first half.
“We played really hard,” Albany linebacker Tyler Bates said. “We threw our hearts out there. We just couldn’t get the win at the end. We just said ‘play for our brothers’, and we worked as team better. We were playing kind of by ourselves the first half, so we picked it up in the second half.”
Albany drove to the Loranger 45 before turning the ball over on downs, and Messina was sacked on the last play of regulation to force overtime.
Loranger made things interesting early recovering an onside kick at the Albany 46 to open the game. Messina hit Green on a 17-yard pass, setting up a 10-yard TD pass to Dante McGee to give Loranger a 7-0 lead with 9:06 to play in the first quarter.
Albany answered after recovering an onside kick at its own 49 on the ensuing kickoff. Four plays later, Parrish busted a 41-yard TD run to help tie the score at 7-7.
“We wanted eight-minute drives,” Janis said. “Hats off to Justin. He just made plays. It wasn’t by design, but a touchdown is a touchdown. We’ll celebrate them.”
Loranger regained the lead on the next play when Alexander ripped off a 52-yard TD run over the right side to put the Wolves up 14-7.
After an Albany punt, Loranger put together a nine-play scoring drive. The big play was a 48-yard pass from Messina to McGee, which moved the Wolves to the Albany 7. Four plays later, Messina kept around the right side on a 4-yard TD run, putting Loranger ahead 21-7 with 48.4 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The second quarter was scoreless as the Hornets turned the ball over on downs on their first drive of the second half.
Wolfe picked off Messina on the ensuing Loranger drive, allowing the Hornets to put together a 10-play drive, the biggest of which was a 38-yard pass from Pregeant to Bates, which moved the ball to the Loranger 6.
The drive, however, fizzled, and Pineda missed a 30-yard field goal, allowing the Wolves to take over and run out the clock.
“Our kids know that they laid it all out on the field,” Janis said. “They’ve got nothing to hang their heads about. They just played their hearts out tonight. I’m extremely proud of them, and I think we did some really good things that we can build on for next week.
"We’re looking forward to an opportunity to do something this school’s never done, and that’s go win a playoff game, so we’re going to go back to work next week and try to make that happen.”
LORANGER 35, ALBANY 34, OT
SCORE BY QUARTERS
LOR 21 0 0 7 7 -- 35
ALB 7 0 7 14 6 -- 34
LOR – Dante McGee 10 pass from Jake Messina (Beau Landry kick)
ALB – Justin Parrish 41 run (Orlando Pineda kick)
LOR – Courtney Alexander 52 run (Landry kick)
LOR –Jake Messina 4 run (Landry kick)
ALB – Parrish 57 run (Pineda kick)
ALB – Parrish 63 run (Pineda kick)
ALB – Parrish 40 run (Pineda kick)
LOR – Xavier Green 37 pass from Messina (Landry kick)
ALB – Nick Pregeant 2 run (kick failed)
LOR – Messina 7 run (Landry kick)
15 First downs 12
39-132 Rushes-yards 357
188 Passing yards 38
12-23-1 Passing (C-A-I) 1-7-0
2-1 Fumbles-lost 0-0
2-31 Punts-avg. 1-28
8-80.5 Penalties-yards 10-80.5