Taylor’s run puts Tigers over the top in come-from-behind win over Mehlville

By STEPHEN GLOVER

With 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter Friday night, Oakville Senior High School’s Paul Taylor pounded in a two-yard touchdown run to give the Tigers a 20-19 lead over visiting Mehlville and the eventual 22-19 victory.

Taylor’s touchdown run was his third for the night as the senior running back carried the ball eight times for 16 yards rushing.

“Paul’s number got called on a lot near the goal line tonight,” Oakville head coach Arlee Conners said. “He’s a player that’s got a lot of ability and I’m really happy for him.”

The Tigers’ win marked the first time Oakville has started the season at 2-0 since the 2006 campaign when the black and gold opened the year at 8-0 before losing to Mehlville 21-6 in the district playoffs.

While the win marked a solid start to the 2009 season, Conners was disappointed the Tigers found themselves down 19-7 mid-way through the fourth quarter.

“Our guys definitely showed a lot of character late in the game,” he said. “But I was disappointed in the way that we got to that point. We knew that they were going to be a run heavy team and they really came after us.”

The loss for Mehlville (0-2, 0-1 Suburban West) marked the first time since the 2006 season that the Panthers have started the season 0-2.

“I think that we took some steps forward tonight,” Mehlville head coach Eric Meyer said. “We just need to keep getting better each week. I thought that our kids played hard, but in the end, it just didn’t work out for us.”

Oakville took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter when Taylor scored on a four-yard run with 9:06 to play in the first half.

The extra point by Andy Messmer gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead.

Mehlville responded with 5:06 left in the second quarter when junior quarterback Zach Hayes connected with sophomore wide receiver Mike Sulya on a 33-yard touchdown pass. The extra point by Brandon Zufall gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

Hayes completed 6 of 18 passes for 148 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception.

“I think that Zach played pretty well,” Meyer said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but he definitely was effective tonight.”

Sulya recorded four receptions for 104 yards receiving and one touchdown.

“Mike made some really nice plays,” Meyer said. “He’s got some good speed and is becoming a playmaker for us.”

Mehlville took a 13-7 lead when running back Justin Talley scored on a four-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.

“Our inside running game allowed us to open up our outside running game,” Meyer said. “I thought that Justin had a much better game tonight than last week.”

The Panthers extended their lead to 19-7 with 7:38 to play in the fourth quarter when Demond Harris scored on a 13-yard run.

Harris carried the ball six times for 30 yards rushing and one touchdown.

After the touchdown by Harris, Oakville began to march down the field with a crisp passing attack complemented by a handful of Mehlville pass-interference penalties.

The Tigers trimmed Mehlville’s lead to 19-14 when Taylor pounded in a one-yard touchdown run with 6:25 to play in the game. Taylor also scored the game-winning touchdown with 18 seconds left on the clock on a two-yard touchdown run to give Oakville a 20-19 lead.

Oakville went for and completed the two-point conversion on a pass from senior quarterback Joe Plassmeyer to Mike Cyliax to give the Tigers the 22-19 win.

Plassmeyer completed 17 of 30 passes for 158 yards with one interception.

“Joe had a rough night,” Conners said. “But when we needed him to make some plays for us, he went out and made them.”

The Tigers return to action Friday when they travel to Lindbergh for a 7 p.m. meeting with the Flyers.

They Flyers are coming off a 22-14 win at home over Francis Howell Friday night when they needed nine points in the second half for the come-from-behind win.

“Lindbergh is a big game for us for a lot of reasons,” Conners said. “We haven’t done well against them in the past. They’ve pretty much have had our number. I think that they’ll pose a lot of problems for us.”

The Panthers also are in action at 7 p.m. Friday when they play host to Northwest.

“Northwest likes to spread it out quite a bit, so we’re going to need to be sound and play well,” Meyer said. “We’re going to have to play really well against their passing attack.”