Rose Did What USC Couldn't
by Josh Spence

With a win Friday over Hoggard, the Rose Rampants will play in their fourth consecutive state championship game.  Despite the pressure mounting over a 35 game win streak, including some close calls in the last few weeks, Rose was able to muster enough will to survive and advance.  Rose outlasted the formerly undefeated Hoggard Vikings 31-29 in the Rampants (15-0) most thrilling game of the season. 

Exactly the opposite happened in college football.  A USC win on Saturday would have set up the least controversial match-up in the BCS National Championship game.  It also would have made three straight appearances for USC in that game, but the Trojans could not hold up their end of the bargain.  The mighty Trojans of USC fell to cross-town rival, unranked UCLA 13-9 Saturday, ending their hopes of another championship bid, and setting up another controversy that could ultimately end the BCS as we know it.  

Instead of the Trojans, it’s the Florida Gators that will get a shot at the only team that nobody questions should be in the national title game, The Ohio State Buckeyes.  Although they finished their season at number two, Michigan ends the season at number three.  That’s right the Wolverines lost a spot in the polls, not to mention a shot a national title without even playing a game.  Therein lays the controversy. 

With the USC loss there was no “right” decision to be made.  In other words you can make an argument either way.  With Florida in, Michigan is left to wonder how they can lose only once, by three points on the road to the number one team in the country, and not get another shot. 

On the flip side we heard for two weeks from Florida officials, including head coach Urban Meyer that said if Michigan got their rematch, the BCS system should immediately be reviewed.  Their main argument being that two teams from the same conference should settle it in conference play, not for the National Championship.  It was those comments, in my opinion, that bought Florida the extra human votes necessary for them to leapfrog the Wolverines into the BCS title game. 

A lot of times I have a hard time debated issues because I can always respect the argument on both sides.  Personally I don’t think two teams from the same conference should play each other for the national championship.  What really bothers me is that for the three weeks following the loss to Ohio State, Michigan was still ahead of Florida in the BCS rankings.  When the final polls come out, Florida jumps right over the Wolverines into the National Championship game. 

The fact of the matter is that you can make an argument for both sides, and neither is 100% right or 100% wrong.  So what do you do?  I think we all know the answer to that.  Let’s just be thankful that in high school, they settle it on the field.  

That was the case Friday night as Rose and Hoggard (both undefeated) met to decide who would play for a state championship.  Though Hoggard fell behind 12-0 early, the Vikings (14-1) proved they were a worthy opponent, scoring 23 unanswered to take a 23-12 lead early in the third.

It seemed as if the momentum was jumping back and forth, as Rose would then take control, scoring the next 19 points to lead 31-23.  After a 30 yard touchdown pass from Brandon Miley to Luke Caldwell cut the deficit to two, Hoggard needed only a two point conversion to tie it, but didn’t get it.  Miley’s pass for two was knocked down in the end zone giving the Rampants the lead 31-29 and the ball with just a few minutes remaining. 

The Vikings however, would get one more chance after the Rampants went for and failed to convert a 4th and short.  The turnover on downs gave Hoggard the ball down two, with less than two minutes to play.  It was then that the Rose defense made one final stand.  Brandon Miley was sacked on consecutive plays to start the drive, he fumbled on the second of which, and Rose was a couple of kneel-downs from its fourth consecutive state championship game. 

The 4-A state championship will be decided this Saturday at Duke’s Wallace-Wade Stadium.  Rose will look for its fourth consecutive state championship against the 11-4 West Charlotte Lions, and you can hear all the live play-by-play action starting with our pre-game show at 4 o’clock on Pirate Radio 1250 and 930 AM.

Josh Spence