By Sarah Moomaw / email@example.com
The Meridian Star
West Lauderdale head coach Stan McCain predicted Friday night's match up with Northeast Lauderdale would be decided in the fourth quarter, but maybe not on the last play of the game, and not in his favor as the Knights didn't get on the board until the second half.
"The lord just shined down on us tonight," he said.
After scoring with eight seconds left in regulation, the Knights were able to hold on to a 26-23 win as their defense stopped a final Northeast play.
"Being around this business as long as I have, you hate seeing anyone lose a game like this," McCain said. "Hats off to Northeast. They've got a great team."
The winning score was a first down and goal for a 6-yard pass into the middle of the end zone from quarterback Tyler Turnage to receiver Nick Langston. The Knights had received half the distance to the goal after a penalty to the Trojan defense.
The penalty wasn't Northeast's only of the game, the half, the quarter or even the final two minutes of play.
"It helped us out big. Field position is big in football," McCain said. "Anytime we can get some help, we got to have that."
One West drive earlier, the Trojans were charged 30 yards on one play for pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct. The flags put the Knights on a first down at the 34-yard line.
Receiver Tyrin Henry got his finger tips on the ball but couldn't reel in a long pass from Turnage. On the second down, the duo connected for a 5-yard pass and Henry ran the ball into the end zone to make it a three-point ball game, 20-23, with 1:17 on the clock.
"They scored twice in a minute and 53 seconds, we can't allow that to happen," Northeast head coach Curt Blackburn said.
The touchdown acted as retaliation for what both coaching staffs thought would be a game-deciding Trojan field goal with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter.
"I thought that sealed the win," Blackburn said. "I'm at a loss, more ways then one."
After a series of rushes, Northeast moved the ball from the midfield line to the 15-yard line. Mikey Myers booted up for the fourth down field goal attempt, good for a 21-yard kick and the 23-13 Trojan lead.
They had opened the quarter by breaking a 13-13 tie. Quarterback Troy Neely carried the ball for a 6-yard rush to go up 20-13 with 8:41 to play.
At the end of the first half, the Knights weren't on the board. McCain said he and his staff talked up Thursday night's Ole Miss victory as motivation to come out strong in the second half.
"We just told them that Ole Miss never gave up," McCain said. "They kept fighting. It didn't matter how much they were behind, they kept fighting and good things happened."
The same can be said for the Knights as they put up 13 third-quarter points at the hands of Turnage. He threw a 16-yard pass to Henry in the end zone to put them on the board, 13-6, with 5:20 to left in the quarter.
Less than four minutes later, Jonathan Williams intercepted a pass from the Trojans' Neely on the 38-yard line to get the ball back for the Knights. On the second down, Turnage ran the ball in from the 34-yard line to tie the game with 1:33 left in the third.
The first half was dominated by the Trojans and Stevie Sanders. He'd close out the first period with a 73-yard rush for a 7-0 lead. Sanders punched in their second touchdown from the 1-yard line with 7:44 to play in the second. He rushed 107 yards in the first half, but ended the night with 172. Neely rushed for 75 and threw 43 yards.
The Knights were led by Turnage with 34 yards rushed and throwing for 26. Williams ended the night with three interceptions and 38 yards rushed.
Despite the loss in a now non-division rivalry game, Blackburn said he could see a bright side.
"They beauty of it is, we're not out of the playoffs," he said.
In Week 3, Northeast will travel to Southeast Lauderdale, while West heads to Wesson.