Down to the wire: Late field goal sinks Trojans in season opening loss to UMS Wright
Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2016
Charles Henderson High overcame an eight-point UMS-Wright lead to go ahead 31-29 with 1:37 to play, but UMS senior placekicker Walker Shaw launched a 42-yard field goal with 0:03 left in the contest, handing the Trojans a 32-31 heartbreaking loss Friday night in Veteran’s-Memorial Stadium.
The first words by CHHS Head Coach Brad McCoy as he addressed the team were the sentiments of any Trojan fan that witnessed the hard-fought, come-from behind effort.
“I am so proud of this team, and every player and their effort,” said McCoy.
The Trojans won last week against Pike County High in a jamboree contest, but Friday’s matchup with UMS-Wright was the season opener for 0-1 CHHS, while UMS improved to 1-1.
“There is no way in God’s creation that we can fault these kids for what they went through the past three hours,” said McCoy. “They fought tooth and nail. Yeah, we came out short on the scoreboard by a point, but that’s just two great football teams competing, and sometimes you lose a close one and sometimes you win one.”
UMS came to Troy with a strong Class 4A squad, opening the year ranked No. 1 in Class 4A before losing a 7-6 season-opener last Friday to Mary Montgomery, and also riding the shoulders of senior running back Michael Matthews.
Last season Matthews rushed for 27 touchdowns and was just shy of 2,000 yards rushing, and Friday night he led the Bulldogs with 186 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.
It was the Trojans, however, that got on the board first, as Jabronski WIlliams ran the ball in from 10-yards out to open the second quarter, and a Cameron Bush PAT gave CHHS a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs quickly answered with Matthews scoring from six yards out, and the extra point by William Percy was good to tie the score 7-7 with 9:09 to play in the first half.
UMS scored again on a 1-yard run by quarterback Tanner Allen, and fullback Will Courtney took it in for a 2-point conversion and a 15-7 lead with 2:26 remaining in the second quarter.
CHHS scored on its second possession of the third quarter on a 71-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Noah Lowery to D.Q. Toney, and the Bush PAT cut the lead to 15-14.
UMS later drove 61 yards in 12 plays, with Matthews taking it in from 2-yards out and a 22-14 Bulldog lead with 10:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It only took one play for the Trojans to get back in the game on their next possession, as Williams broke a 71-yard touchdown run, and Lowery passed to Williams for the 2-point conversion and the game was tied 22-22 with 10:28 left in the contest.
UMS went three-and-out on their next possession, and CHHS moved 52-yards in three plays for a TD, with Bryson Gandy heaving a 41-yard TD pass to Kelshun Campbell, but the PAT was blocked and CHHS led 28-22 with 7:20 remaining.
The Bulldogs scored a TD on their next possession on a 34-yard run by Matthews, and led 29-28 with 5:42 to play.
The Trojans then took over at their own 34 and moved to the UMS 15, where on fourth down Bush nailed a 32-yard field goal, giving CHHS a 31-29 lead with 1:37 to play in the game.
That would be all the time UMS would need, as Allen, the senior quarterback connected for a 19-yard pass, broke a 20-yard run, and on fourth-and-10 Shaw kicked his 42-yard field goal with 0:03 remaining to give the Bulldogs the 32-31 win.
McCoy knew UMS would be an outstanding opponent to put on the CHHS schedule, and he believes this game will benefit his team in the long run.
“The thing is, to be the best, you’ve got to play the best, and eventually you’ve got to beat them, one way or another,” said McCoy. “I think we made that first stride in playing a truly quality football program in UMS-Wright and taking them to the wire. We had our opportunities to win this football game, we’ve just now got to be careful about these kids thinking that its the end of the world and its not. It’s just game one. But what I wanted to do was play a playoff-calibre team early, so we’ve already been in this situation. I’m just extremely proud of them, I can’t say it enough.”
Unofficial stats had CHHS running back Williams with 97 yards rushing and two TD’s, Jard Wilson rushed for 67 yards and Lowery passed for 158 yards and one TD.
The Trojans travel to Carroll of Ozark next Friday night to open the Class 5A, Region 2 schedule.