CHS Trojans Win Using “Next Man Up” Mentality

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#13 Drake Ray

   My wife likes those crazy cooking shows, where contestants are given a non-traditional grocery list, but then are expected to create a delicious dish. Coach Scotty Hannah must have felt like he was on a gridiron version of one of those shows on Friday night. Hannah’s “player pantry” was missing its normal ingredients on both sides of the ball as Ward, Haddock, and Makara were sidelined before the meal and Joe Hensley and Fletcher Thompson would have to excuse themselves from the meal early due to injury.  To make matters worse, the second 3A School in consecutive weeks, BolivAr Central, was the Trojans’ dinner date for the night. I have watched, played, and coached a lot of football in my life but I don’t think I have ever seen a game that had so many “obscurities.” If you missed it in person, have a seat, pour yourself a drink and let me tell you what I can remember. Collinwood won the toss and accepted the ball.  After a short kickoff, Collinwood’s first play started with a BANG from their own 37 yard line. Dayton Scott handed the ball off on a dive play up the middle, like he had done a thousand times before.  However, instead of plowing through the hole, the running back stopped at the line of scrimmage and flicked the “flea”/football back to Scott, who then unloaded it deep down the field to a wide open Blake Whitten. Touchdown, Trojans on the 63 yard bomb! After the Trojan defense came away with a fumble on the tiger’s first possession, Joe Houston Thompson finished off the 2nd Trojan drive with a 2 yard touchdown run. Bolivar Central retaliated with a short drive of their own, after a costly turnover on downs by the Trojans, finishing with a 3 yard dive into the end zone. Trojan lead mid-way through the 2nd quarter 12-6. Dayton Scott went to the air again on another critical 4th down inside the red zone on their next possession. The pass was well defended and slapped away by the tiger secondary, but Nick Sanderson remained calm, adjusted to the deflection and snatched it out of the air before it went out of the back of the end zone. Touchdown Trojans! Trojans lead 18-6. Bolivar Central did not quit all night and kept coming back after being punched in the mouth, delivering their own haymakers. With only 9 seconds remaining before the half, the tigers answer with a 4 yard TD run. Halftime score, Trojans 18- Tigers 12.  Bolivar Central took the ball in the second half and scored after an impressive drive, tying the game at 18 each. Joe Houston Thompson, whether he realizes it or not, can simply take over a ballgame, all by himself. If he would act on it as he did in these next two plays, every opponent the Trojans face are in trouble. Thompson stopped the next Tiger drive by blitzing on 3rd down, slamming the ball carrier to the ground 5 yards in the backfield on a play that the Tigers only needed less than a yard to convert. After the punt, on the next play from scrimmage, Thompson broke numerous tackles, spun, stiff armed a defender to the ground, then scampered 86 yards down to the Tiger 5 yard line. He punched it in a couple of snaps later from 4 yards out. Nick Sanderson outran the Tigers to the pylon on the 2-point conversion, giving the Trojans the lead once again 26-18. The Tigers kept coming, kept battling, kept scoring. They would score on their next 2 possessions, the 2nd score after a costly Trojan interception. Bolivar Central scored from 3 yards out and then through the air after causing the turnover from 63 yards out. With 3:44 remaining in the game, Bolivar Central leads 32-26. The Trojans mount another drive, fighting the clock as well as the Tigers and find themselves facing a 4th down and 6 from the 19 yard line with just over a minute remaining. By this time in the game, Joe Houston Thompson had rushed for 164 yards on 16 carries with 2 touchdowns and numerous 1st downs. As mentioned earlier, the Tigers simply could not stop him. Collinwood calls a timeout, only building the suspense and tension in Pat Brewer Stadium.  After breaking the huddle, Thompson lined up in his tail back position, with almost everyone expecting the ballgame to be put in his hands; expecting him to get those 6 needed yards, one more time. The ball is snapped, Scott reaches to hand the ball to Thompson, but pulls it and throws a high spiral across the middle of the tiger’s secondary. Drake Ray, who is listed at 5’6” on the depth chart, had to leap 28-30 inches to get a hand on the pass. He must have made it to  32 inches because he snatched the ball out of the air and sprinted past the goal line. Touchdown Trojans from 19 yards out on a 4th down and 6! The celebration was short lived, as now the score was notched at 32 each. The Trojans line up for 2, as a kicker was still missing from that “player pantry.” Surely, Thompson will try to plow this one in, thought the Tigers. The handoff is faked again and once again Drake Ray cuts to the outside, waving a hand for Scott to throw to. The pass is thrown to where only Ray could reach it, and after a diving effort, the 2 point pass play is good! Trojans lead 34-32, but the Tigers have not backed down all night and would not on their last 8 plays. After the Tigers drove to almost midfield, they faced a 3rd down and 9, calling a timeout to stop the clock. Coach Hannah, needing some icing on the cake for his dessert, calls Isaac Chandler off of the sideline to go in and play defensive line. Isaac broke through the Tiger line in a burst and devoured the quarterback for a 9 yard sack lunch, forcing a 4th and 18. The Tigers then threw a pass to their slot back, streaking down the visitor sideline, causing a hush to fall over the crowd. Once again, Joe Houston Thompson took over on the play, deflecting the pass, and sealing the Trojan victory, much like he did at Zion Christian earlier in the year. The Trojans truly embodied the “next man up” mentality and presented one of the most entertaining football games of recent memory, leaving every fan in the stands stuffed and pleased. 

   Dayton Scott finished the night completing 11 of 23 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. Blake Whitten, Drake Ray, and Nick Sanderson were all on the receiving end of those touchdown tosses. They ended the night with 81 yards, 69 yards, and 38 yards respectively. 

   Joe Houston Thompson led all tacklers with 17. He was followed by Griffin Pigg with 13 tackles.  Blake Whitten had 11 and Fletcher Hale and Nick Sanderson added 7 each. Joe Hensley added 2 sacks and a fumble recovery before leaving the game with a leg injury.

   The Trojans return to region play this week at home with Homecoming Festivities Galore! Come out and support our Trojans. Come on with it!—Submitted