Thursday, October 3, 2013
By NOAH FEIT
Week Five of the high school football season got off to a tremendous start as Fox Creek outlasted Ridge Spring-Monetta 42-41 in double overtime in a rare Thursday night game.
It’s the fourth consecutive victory for the Predators (4-1), who opened Region 4-A play with a critical win.
“It’s real big,” Fox Creek head coach Russ Schneider said of the victory at Lions Field that wasn’t sealed until his placekicker, Gavin Snipes, split the uprights in the second overtime of a thrilling back-and-forth contest that neither team deserved to lose. “These were two equal teams. We didn’t do anything better than they did. One thing I know for sure is that everybody got their $7 worth tonight.”
It’s the second consecutive heartbreaking loss for the Trojans (3-3, 0-2). They were edged out by Hunter-Kinard-Tyler less than a week before the contest they needed to rally in during the closing moments just to force overtime.
“There are reasons we’re getting tested, but it will get good at the end. Anything worth having is going to come hard,” said Ridge Spring-Monetta head coach Heath Corley, alluding to the bigger picture.
The final outcome was decided in the second overtime. The Trojans had the ball first and took the lead when quarterback Reggie Preston connected with do-it-all back Travious Wigfall on a 20-yard touchdown. But on the point-after try, Fox Creek got a good rush and applied pressure up the middle, forcing RS-M placekicker Carlos Fernandez to rush his kick, which was a low line drive that went under the crossbar.
On the very next play, the Predators’ Dalton Swires shot up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown run. Corley called a timeout to try and ice Snipes, but it didn’t work as Fox Creek’s kicker shortened his delivery to ensure the ball got away quickly and through the uprights.
That sparked a wild celebration for the Fox Creek faithful and allowed Schneider to heave a sigh of relief.
The game was an emotional roller-coaster as the teams traded the lead and were tied six different times. One team would score, most often Fox Creek, and the other would be quick to answer. RS-M rallied from seven-point deficits four times, but none was any bigger than it’s game-tying score in the closing moments of regulation.
The Trojans trailed 28-21 with just 3:05 to play when they got the ball on their 45-yard line. The series got off to a poor start as they immediately lost 5 yards on an illegal shift and 2 more on a run. Preston moved the ball over midfield on the next play and delivered under pressure on third and short. With less than two minutes to play, Preston was pressured and rolled to his right looking for a receiver. Wigfall, who battled an assortment of injuries, saw his quarterback in peril and threw his arm up as he broke loose past his defender. Preston hit Wigfall, who sprinted down the sideline for a 47-yard, game-tying touchdown.
“That was a big play,” Corley said. “We were aiming for the first down, but Fox Creek stepped under. Because of that, we ran vertical.”
The player who did the most running was Wigfall. Most of the night he was a battering ram, slamming into the middle of Fox Creek’s defense, running 21 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. But he was the top receiving threat at the end of the game, and all of his five catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns came either on the final drive or overtime.
“Travious takes care of himself and wants the ball,” said Corley, whose team was short-handed when it lost top receiver AJ Hopkins to a concussion and two-way lineman Trenton Herrin to a high-ankle sprain. “We just roll with the punches.”
While Fox Creek never really scored a knockout, it landed significant blows thanks to a balanced offense. Four primary players shared the load and carried the ball for a total of 230 yards, led by bruising back Ike El. Quarterback Deondre Baskett and Jaquan Williams also had big runs for the Predators, who rode the athleticism and explosiveness of Swires down the stretch for the win. Swires scored both overtime touchdowns and was the X-factor in the offense that the Trojans had trouble containing as the game wore on.
“It makes us so hard to defend us,” Schneider said of the balance, but he credited another group for the rushing success. “Give all the credit to the offensive line. They’re so much quicker and stronger than it has ever been here.”
Fox Creek will have an extra night off as it prepares to play host to region power Williston-Elko. RSM will have an extra week to digest the tough loss as it heads into its bye.