Thursday, September 21, 2006
Dragons rally, knock off Indians
By CLAUDE VINSON
Byhalia let a lead slip away Friday night and lost a squeaker to M.S. Palmer’s Dragons.
It was the Indians’ first district contest of the season. They were saddled with a 14-12 setback.
Byhalia, playing at home, won the toss and deferred possession until the second half.
Anthony Twilley was the signal caller for the Dragons and he sneaked for a first down. Charles Sturdivant cut across the middle for another first. A face-mask penalty gave them another first inside the red zone.
But the Byhalia defense showed up and caused a fumble, which was covered by Jeraldo Lesuer.
Marquise Green took a handoff for the Indians’ first down. The offense missed two long aerials and had to punt away.
The Byhalia defense, led by Kelvin Chew and Terrion Smith, held the Dragons to three and out.
Marcus Thomas, leading the Indians from the quarterback position, hit Zacarian Rayford for a first down but the home team couldn’t capitalize and had to punt away.
But the Dragons didn’t have possession very long. Jamie Jones rushed in and dumped the quarterback for a big loss to keep the score 0-0 as the first quarter expired.
The Indians and Dragons both went three and out to begin the second quarter. The Indians did recover their third fumble of the game at the 41. But the offense fizzled and they had to punt. Lesuer kicked a long, high ball with plenty of hang time that landed at the 10. A stiff Byhalia defense gave the ball back to the Indians with good field location.
Green broke through on the second play and carried to the 8-yard line. He came right back with the same play and sliced and diced his way into the end zone. The try for deuce after the touchdown failed.
The Byhalia defense was still gaining praise. Chris Hill and Jones combined to sack the quarterback for a big loss and Lesuer sacked him again on the next play, solo.
Both teams had some huge gains in the waning minutes of the first half but neither offense could get it done. Time expired with the ball in the hands of the Indians and a 6-0 lead.
In a move unprecedented in this writer’s memory, the ball was given to the Dragons to start the second half although the Indians had deferred in the first half. The possession was short lived, but the Indians had to begin operations deep in their own territory.
On the first play it appeared that Thomas was trapped for a big loss when he managed a pitch out to Green who muscled his way to a first down. Then Thomas called a slant and Noreko Harvey cut across and took it at full throttle and went into the end zone standing up. The try for deuce failed but the Indians still had a shutout going, 12-0, when the third quarter ended.
The Indians intercepted and had the ball at the 25 with 8:30 left in the game. They incurred two penalties which set them back and they had to punt.
The Dragon offense had perked up a little and Twilley found Rico Presley on a fourth down pass which avoided the shutout. They didn’t convert and the Indians still led 12-6.
The Indians were still on the warpath and green took the kickoff to the 38. A short swing pass was not enough for a first so they had to gamble on a fourth and one. The Dragons breathed a little fire and smoke and denied the conversion.
The Dragons were trying to beat the clock and on a third and long, Twilley unleashed a “hail Mary” pass that was caught among a host of Indian defenders. The score was tied 12-12. They swept the left end for the two point conversion and a 14-12 score.
The Indians got the ball back with a modest 2:08 left. Thomas called and executed a perfect fake, delay slant on a third and long yardage play, but the ball was dropped by the Indian receiver. The Indians had no more timeouts and had to let the Dragons have the 14-12 win.
Coach Devin Rutherford named Terrion Smith most valuable player for his excellent play on defense.
“We were in this game all the way and they turned some terrific defensive plays,” he said. “We just have to get our offense to catch up to our defense.”
The coach said his team is showing marked improvement from game to game, playing each successive opponent a little tougher.
Up next for the Indians will be another district contest at the Independence Wildcats this Friday night. Independence is 1-3 after falling 20-6 to Bruce last Friday night. Their lone win is over Coldwater. Other losses were to Caledonia and Calhoun City.
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