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Charles Henderson rallies for late win against Tallassee

Published 12:28am Saturday, September 14, 2013

By Griffin Pritchard

Friday’s slugfest for Region 2 supremacy lived up to the billing as Class 4A heavyweights Tallassee and Charles Henderson battled it out until the game’s final minutes. The No. 3 Trojans (as voted by the Alabama Sports Writers) were able to land back-to-back body shots rocking the Tigers, and securing the 26-21 Charles Henderson victory.

“I couldn’t ask any more from these young men,” said Mike Battles, coach of the Tigers. “I couldn’t be any more proud of my bunch. That is about as good a football game as we can play against a great opponent.”

The Tigers (2-1, 1-1) will next turn their attention to Headland, while the Trojans will next face Alabama Christian.

“We are going to put them in the position to be successful,” said Mike Dean, coach of the Trojans. “They got better as the game went along. But we can’t wait. We are going to enjoy the win, I’m proud of them. But we are going to work tomorrow.”

Tallassee’s physicality, early, led to the Tigers taking an early lead. After the Trojans’ defenders stuffed back-to-back runs out of the I formation, Tallassee shifted back to the Notre Dame Box and immediately found success.

After the shift, Herman McKenzie took the direct snap and bulldozed his way through the crush of Trojans for a 46-yard gain.

The Tigers were given 15 free yards following a facemask penalty on the Trojans.

After being turned away on first down, Brandon Baynes put the first score on the board after taking a direct snap 18 yards through the heart of the defense and into the end zone.

Greg Bianchi added the point after and with 9:29 left in the opening frame, the Tigers led 7-0.

Charles Henderson – led by quarterback Austin Ingram – wasted little time in using their spread offense to move the ball down the field. Austin completed a 12-yard pass to John Johnson that moved the Trojans inside the Tigers’ 10.

That’s where Tallassee’s claws came out as Charles Henderson’s next three plays featured a loss of seven yards by Johnson and incomplete passes by Ingram.

In an effort to just get points on the board, Dean, ran the field goal unit out for the 33-yard try. The result was a wide-left kick knuckling through the air and bouncing akwardly off the concession stand wall.

 

The Trojans did even the score thanks in large part to a long return from Rob Roberson that set up his offense with a first down at the Tallassee 25.

 

Ingram completed a 12-yard pass to Josh Noel for a first down at the 13. Mondarius Dixon ran the ball to the 1 and Ingram punched it for the score. The point after was good and the game was tied at the 2:55 mark in the first quarter.

 

With the clock ticking in the second quarter, Tallassee’s defense forced a Trojans punt. Tallassee’s offense took over at the 20 and, using the legs of Baynes, McKenzie and DJ Rivers, moved the ball to the Trojans’ 15.

 

A halfback pass from McKenzie to Rivers moved Tallassee to the Trojans one. McKenzie, on a sweep, punched it in for the score dropping low enough to almost bear crawl underneath the Trojan defensive backs trying to hold him out. Bianchi converted the point after and the Tigers pushed ahead 14-7 with 4:34 left before intermission.

 

The Trojans struck back.

 

After taking possession at their own 29 Ingram was flushed from the pocket and broke free on a 29-yard scamper down the Tigers sideline.

 

After a holding call, Ingram completed a pass for eight yards and then another to Isom Coley for 39 yards.

 

A pair of rushes moved the Trojan to 10, then to the Tallassee 5. Ingram called his own number on third down and sprinted to the goal line only to be stopped short by Tallassee’s Lane Yankey.

 

Ingram, again, pulled in tight behind his offensive line and bulled his way into the end zone for the score with 65 seconds left in the half.

The point after was no good and the Tigers carried a 14-13 lead into halftime.

“As far as our pride and the character of these kids it’s been checked and we are ready to go play anybody,” said Battles. “They played their best and that’s all you can ask for.”

Both teams spent the third period trading drives and possessions.

Charles Henderson appeared poised to take the lead when Ingram – after being nearly sacked by a Tallassee defender at the Trojans’ 25 – completed a pass to Johnson that he carried to inside the Tigers’ 25.

A block in the back called back the Trojans up, but they moved forward until a third and 13 miscue.

Ingram was flushed out of the pocket and threw to an empty patch of grass that was suddenly filled by a diving Drew Baker for the interception.

The Tigers’ drive stalled and they were forced to punt.

The Trojans took the ball in the fourth quarter at their own 20 and strung together an 80-yard drive capped by a fourth and long pass from Ingram to Johnson in the back of the end zone for the score.

The 13-yard strike gave the Trojans their first lead of the night. Dean elected to have the offense try for two, but it was thwarted by a host of Tigers’ tacklers.

Charles Henderson didn’t have to wait long for a second shot to ice the game. Tallassee fumbled the en suing kickoff return and it was quickly pounced on by a Trojan.

On first down at the Tigers 24, Ingram was dropped for a nine-yard loss by Zeryes Rivers and Blake Ware. And the next two plays were for a total of a yard. Ingram dropped back on fourth and 18 and dropped a 32-yard pass into the arms of Coley for the score with 4:16 left in the game. The Trojans added the point after and pushed ahead 26-14.

The Tigers didn’t tuck tail.

Seth Golden completed a 42-yard pass to Devontae McKenzie with less than three minutes to play.

Baynes, on first down moved the ball 15 yards to the five and McKenzie carried it in for the score. Bianchi added the point after bringing the tally to its final resting place of 26-21 Charles Henderson.

The Tigers attempted an onside kick only to have it recovered at midfield by the Trojans. Ingram drained the clock with a series of kneeldowns for the Charles Henderson win.

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