Part X in a series counting down the 10 most memorable performances in the history of Tommy Oliver Stadium
There were individual standout performances to be sure. Foremost was the brilliance of Mack Pittman and Anwar Stewart, and on both sides of the football.
But what should be the lasting memory of the 38-0 shellacking Bay put on Rutherford in the Class 4A state semifinal football game was the completeness of the effort on the part of the Tornadoes.
Clearly, in many senses, this was not a game as lopsided as the final outcome. Rutherford had defeated Bay only one month prior in an evenly played district showdown.
The fact that extra bleachers were brought in to swell the seating capacity of Tommy Oliver Stadium past five figures, even though the game was being telecast locally, provided even more momentum for whichever school would move on to the state championship game.
With less than one minute remaining before halftime the Tornadoes led only 7-0. A field goal by Ryan Fleming made it 10-0 at intermission.
During the third quarter every ounce of energy shifted for good to Bay’s sideline, and most incredibly it came during a 12-minute span when the Tornadoes ran only two offensive plays from scrimmage.
Both of them resulted in long touchdown runs by Pittman, the remarkable sophomore who would produce three TDs and increase his season scoring total to 154 points.
Bay’s defense did the rest, intercepting Rutherford quarterback Alexander Scott four times, sacking him three times and limiting the Rams to 121 total yards.
It was obvious that Tornadoes’ defenders had long tired of being reminded of Rutherford’s prowess on defense prior to kickoff.
“I know I got a little tired of hearing about it,” Bay defensive coordinator Frank Springer said. “I thought we had a real good mix with our blitzes and stunts. And we changed our pass coverage.
“We basically had to stop the sweep, their belly with the big fullback and shut down the pass.”
The outcome was in doubt, however, when Rutherford took the second-half kickoff and drove downfield. That is when Stewart and Pittman combined with some exceptional game-planning by Bay’s coaching staff to reverse the current.
With the Rams facing third down at Bay’s 16, Chris Moore tipped a pass by Scott that Stewart intercepted at the goal line. He returned to midfield, but a clipping penalty set Bay back to its 30.
On first down, Pittman produced another big play to open a 17-point bulge.
“We had noticed on film that when we ran the option they didn’t honor quarterback Chris Moore,” Bay offensive coordinator Conrad Moon said. “We stuck Mack in there and they just let him go.”
Pittman, the starting fullback, moved behind center for one snap and ran the option to the right side. He breezed 70 yards.
Later in the third quarter, a sack of Scott by LaBarron Burden resulted in a short punt by the Rams and Bay took over at Rutherford’s 44. Another bit of scheming led to a 44-yard jaunt untouched to the end zone by Pittman and suddenly Rutherford was doomed, trailing 24-0.
“We ran a tackle trap on the noseguard which is almost unheard of,” Moon said.
Bay, which didn’t convert a first down until the final play of the first quarter and had rushed for only 65 yards by halftime, suddenly was en route to 304 yards rushing for the game.
The Tornadoes weren’t finished as Stewart and Moore hooked up for a 59-yard TD pass and run and Pittman steamed 26 yards for the final touchdown, both coming in the fourth quarter.
Pittman ended with 219 yards rushing, including a 53-yard blast leading to Brian Humphreys 1-yard sweep to open the scoring. Stewart caught two passes in addition to a number of big plays on defense.
“Just too much 80 (Stewart) and 7 (Pittman),” Rutherford coach Steve Hardin said. “They rose to the occasion and made some great plays. Just give their team every bit of credit.”
Two great players to be sure, Stewart eventually producing an MVP season in the Canadian Football League and Pittman the outstanding player for Florida in the annual Florida-Georgia All-Star Game two years later.
But the No. 1 performance in the history of Tommy Oliver Stadium was a dazzling team effort in every sense.
It produced the perfect storm.