The Trojans made their eighth appearance in the Class C-2 championship game under Keyser, who was coaching his last game after 17 years as the Trojans' mentor.
Unfortunately, Keyser's last game on the sidelines didn't turn out the way his team wanted it to, as Plainview's ground game was too much for the Trojans in a 21-6 defeat Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Keyser's Trojans won seven state titles (1987, 1993-94, 1996-8, 2003) and were clearly the dominant team in Class C-2 over the past 15 years, but the Trojans were unable to get the job done today thanks to a solid Plainview ground game that saw them rack up over 300 yards.
"I thought we had a great effort," Keyser said after the game. "We just dropped too many passes and had some costly turnovers against a very good, physical team today."
The Trojans struggled with Plainview's ground game in the first half, as the Pirates racked up 112 yards in the opening stanza and scored a pair of touchdown runs.
After going nowhere on its first drive, the Trojans came back and answered the Pirates' first score. Lance Shifflet caught a 35-yard pass from Waid Vontz to the Pirates' 7-yard line, and Vontz took it home from there on the next play to tie the game at 6-6 midway through the first period.
Plainview responded with its second rushing touchdown, a 5-yard run by David Wragge, and the Pirates ran a fake on the extra-point conversion as kicker Mike Stelling found Anderson in the end zone to make it 14-6.
The Cambridge defense settled in after that and kept the score within striking range. Cambridge tried to put together a half-ending drive, but the half ended with Vontz getting drilled by 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive lineman Harrison Lingenfelter as he let go a desperation pass that fell incomplete.
Keyser said he felt his team was in good shape after shutting down the Pirates' rushing attack in the second period.
"We thought that by halftime we had been able to stop their running game, and we were starting to move the ball pretty well and we felt pretty good about where we were at then," he said.
Lingenfelter and Vontz were reintroduced again on a pass that was tipped and intercepted by the Pirates, but Cambridge kept the Plainview ground game in check after allowing over 160 yards on the ground in the first 24 minutes.
"I know (Vontz) took a lot of hits and had to play through a lot of pain the second half," Keyser said.
The Plainview offense finally found the groove late in the third period, as Wragge broke free on a 48-yard run.
Two plays later, Wragge found the end zone from 14 yards out and the Pirates took a commanding 21-6 advantage with 1:28 left in the third.
Cambridge had a pair of opportunities to make a game of it in the final period, but turnovers killed both Trojan opportunities.
A fumble deep in Plainview territory ended a drive early in the fourth, and a Vontz pass deep in Plainview territory was intercepted -- the third Cambridge turnover of the second half -- effectively ending Cambridge's hopes to send their coach out with another state title.
Though his team didn't come out on top in his final game, Keyser said he has been fortunate to have had the opportunities he has had during his time on the Cambridge sideline.
"It's tremendous," he said. "I've had a lot of opportunities over the years and have been blessed tremendously to be around these great coaches and great athletes."
PLAINVIEW 21, CAMBRIDGE 6
P--Keylyn Anderson 24 run (kick failed), 8:52.
C--Waid Vontz 7 run (run failed), 5:47.
P--David Wragge 5 run (Anderson pass from Michael Stelling), 1:52.
P--Wragge 14 run (Stelling kick), 1:28.
|Time of Possession||29:54||18:06|
RUSHING--Plainview, Wragge 37-219, Anderson 16-85, Blake Mosel 6-8, Phil Hamilton 1-0, Team 2-minus 4. Cambridge, Vontz 14-52, Lance Shifflet 8-22, Anthony Lytle 2-9, Brett Cribelli 1-minus 3.
PASSING--Plainview, Mosel 4-6-0 40. Cambridge, Vontz 13-30-2 209.
RECEIVING--Plainview, Anderson 3-30, Bret Graf 1-10. Cambridge, Shifflet 4-68, Cribelli 3-5, Lytle 2-69, Brian Ballou 2-23, Josh Keener 1-23, Jacob Benson 1-21.