CATEGORY: FOL High School Football
CALHOUN CITY SAVORS WIN OVER CHARGERS
By Wayne Clements
CALHOUN CITY Calhoun City coach Mike Ray never said a word about the Wildcats' last penalty in Friday's 27-24 win over Oxford.
The Wildcats were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct with 6.8 seconds remaining. The reason: Calhoun City had just gone 86 yards in less than a minute, with no timeouts, to score the game-winning touchdown. Jody Jennings, who caught the TD pass from quarterback Jonathan Herrod, was mobbed by his teammates in the end zone.
Helmets came off. Players rolled on the ground in glee. And poor Bernard Sykes, worn to a frazzle after starring on defense all night, had to try a 35-yard extra point after the penalty.
"I'm emotionally drained," Ray said in the locker room afterwards.
This game had everything. Calhoun City, ranked No. 8 in the AP's Little 10 and No. 2 in the Daily Journal small school poll, scored the first 21 points in steamroller fashion. The Wildcats turned an Oxford fumble into a touchdown, recovered the onside kick and scored on the next play for a 14-0 lead. Two Oxford possessions and one recovered fumble later, the Wildcats were on the board again with a 21-0 lead.
"Defense won the game for us," Ray said. "The onside was a big momentum thing. We should have put them away."
But the Wildcats (5-1), who held Oxford to just 52 total yards, didn't. They made enough mistakes to keep the Chargers, ranked No. 10 by the AP and No. 3 in the Journal's large school poll, alive.
Oxford (5-1) scored twice in a 10-second span of the second period on a safety and a 75-yard kick return on the ensuing free kick. In the third period, Calhoun City's Herrod dropped back to pass and had the ball slip out of his hand. Oxford's Brad Carper returned the fumble 20 yards for another TD, cutting the Wildcats' lead to 21-16.
Thanks in part to two Calhoun City penalties, the Chargers took the lead with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left on Kredwrick Johnson's 13-yard sweep for a 24-21 lead. Then came the wild finish.
The late TD capped a dominating night for the Wildcats. While the defense shut down Oxford, Herrod completed 15-of-26 for 190 yards and three touchdowns. Jennings caught eight balls for 154 yards and two TDs.
"They had one touchdown," Ray said, "but I thought our defense could keep them out of the end zone."
They did, coach, just enough.