Ukiah: Total class after gut-wrenching loss

After his high-school career ended with a punch-in-the-gut 34-33 loss to 12th-seeded Ygnacio Valley on Saturday night, Ukiah quarterback Kyle Morris didn’t want to talk when I approached him for an interview after the game.

I can’t say I blame him. Morris was clearly heartbroken. But he also might have figured his brilliant performance spoke for itself.

Morris completed 27 of 31 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 73 yards and scored on a 10-yard run. No wonder Idaho State offered him a full scholarship this week and he has visits lined up to Montana and Nevada, according to Wildcats coach Chris Burris, who also said San Jose State was very interested.

Morris is fast, has a strong arm and uncanny pocket presence. Each of those qualities was on display in the first quarter when Ukiah faced a 3rd-and-22 from its 23-yard line. Morris was flushed from the pocket, sprinted out to the right and heaved a 32-yard dart to Chris Frasier as he was practically falling out of bounds, Not a normal play for a high school kid.

Neither team punted in the game and I figured Ukiah would win when they recovered a fumble at its 31-yard line with 1:43 left. Sure, Morris would likely have had to guide them 69 yards in less than two minutes to win the game (their spotty kicking game made a field-goal attempt unlikely). But why not? Morris looked unstoppable.

He probably would have done it if not for a questionable no-call on his 1st-and-10 pass at the Ygnacio Valley 40-yard line with 33 seconds left. The pass was intended for 6-foot-2 wide receiver Kyle Mayfield, who had burned the Warriors secondary for 10 catches for 147 yards.

Mayfield looked to be in position to catch the pass around the 15-yard line, but Ygnacio’s Steven Porschet stepped in front of Mayfield for a game-ending interception.

Ukiah’s fans and players went berserk because it appeared Porschet bumped into Mayfield as he went up for the pick. And since this is a blog, I’m free to say it looked like pass interference.

Ukiah coach Chris Burris said a referee explained to him that Mayfield got his legs tangled with Porschet. Maybe so. But I can understand why the Wildcats feel cheated.

By the way, to his credit, Burris didn’t use the call as an excuse.

I’ve dealt with other coaches in the immediate aftermath of excruciating losses and I’m not sure any handled it with more grace and class than Burris.

He patiently answered all my questions and, in conclusion, he smiled and said “life will go on.” It was impressive. Ukiah didn’t leave with a win tonight, but hopefully the Wildcats learned something from their head coach about losing with dignity.