Perfect Cavaliers get dramatic win

Published 12:03 am Friday, September 22, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – It was a Thursday-night thriller.

The Callaway Cavaliers fell behind for the first time this season, but they rallied to upend Harris County 28-27 in a back-and-forth game at Callaway Stadium.

Twice in the second half Harris County took the lead, but on both occasions Callaway responded with a touchdown.

After Harris County took the lead for the second time, Callaway’s DJ Atkins scored on a 2-yard touchdown run with 6:01 to play to deadlock the score.

Noah Stephens made the extra point to give the Cavaliers the one-point lead.

After the defense made a big stop, the Callaway offense got a pair of first downs to run out the clock, and that was that.

The Cavaliers improved to 5-0 with their 24th consecutive regular-season win.

“Our guys had a never-say-attitude tonight,” Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said. “Harris County’s got a good football team. They’ve got a very explosive team. And we’ve been on a five-week grind with some very tough opponents, and I felt like our kids came out here and fought the entire night.”

Callaway was six days removed from a 40-20 victory over Upson-Lee, but that was a one-possession game midway through the fourth quarter.

“It’s just unlimited effort,” said Callaway’s Gabriel Moultrie. “Everybody’s grinding, no matter what’s going on in the game. It’s Callaway football. Everybody is just full speed every single play, and you keep going until you give out. And when you give out, you keep giving more. I love it.”

Callaway got it done with a big-play offense, and a defense that made plays when it had to.

Callaway quarterback Kedrick Ramsey threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Freeman, and he also scored on a 1-yard keeper.

Qua Hines and DJ Atkins both had scoring runs in the second half, and both men also had long runs to set up touchdowns.

Stephens made all four of his extra points, and that was critical in a one-point game.

The game was decided during a wild fourth quarter.

Harris County took its second and final lead of the night on a 52-yard touchdown run by Cal’Von Harris with 6:30 to play.

The extra point was missed, though, and that would prove to be a critical moment.

The explosive Cavaliers needed just two plays to score a touchdown of their own to pull even.

On first down, Hines ripped off a 68-yard run to the Harris County 2-yard line.

Atkins had a scoring run on the next play to make it a 27-27 game, and Stephens converted the extra point to give Callaway the lead with 6:01 remaining.

Harris County got the ball back with plenty of time to drive for a potential go-ahead score, but Callaway’s defense stood tall.

On a third-down play, Moultrie deflected a pass from Davion Mahone, who caught the ball and was tackled for a 17-yard loss.

Harris County punted, and Callaway took over at midfield.

On fourth down, Freeman lined up at quarterback, and his 2-yard run was enough for the critical first down.

Ramsey then had a first-down run of his own, and the clock ran out after that since Harris County was out of timeouts.

“We were in some positions that we haven’t seen this year, but we kept fighting back, and that’s what good football teams do,” Wiggins said. “They’re able to overcome adversities and deficits, and our kids kept to the game plan, and kept grinding. It was a great effort throughout the game.”

For the second straight game, Callaway scored on its first play from scrimmage, and it was the same two players getting it done.

Ramsey found Freeman for a 60-yard touchdown pass, and Stephens’ extra point gave the Cavaliers a 7-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game.

Harris County came right back with a touchdown of its own, with Mahone scoring on a 14-yard run, and it was a 7-7 game with 4:57 to play in the first quarter.

Neither team scored the rest of the half, and it was a 7-7 game as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms.

At the start of the second half, it was Harris County striking quickly, with Cal’von Harris scoring on a long run, and Callaway trailed 14-7.

Facing a deficit for the first time, the Cavaliers put together a nine-play, 72-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Ramsey, and it was a 14-14 game with 8:57 to play in the third quarter.

Cartavious Bigsby had a 25-yard run on that drive that put the ball on the Harris County 14.

After a Harris County punt, Callaway had the ball at its own 20.

The Cavaliers thought they’d taken the lead on an 80-yard run by Atkins, but a block-in-the-back penalty negated the score.

Still, Callaway was in business at the Harris County 31-yard line.

Four plays later, Hines muscled his way into the end zone from seven yards out, and Stephens converted the extra point to give Callaway a 21-14 lead with 2:33 to play in the third quarter.

On the final play of the third quarter, Harris County converted a fake punt in its own territory.

The Tigers then started the fourth quarter with Mahone finding Jason Whearley for a 57-yard touchdown pass, and the extra point knotted the score at 21-21 with 11:43 to play.

The Cavaliers were forced to punt on their next possession, and the Tigers took the lead on the 52-yard scoring run from Harris.

After the critical missed extra point, the Cavaliers went back to work and scored on Atkins’ 2-yard run, and they took the lead for the final time on Stephens’ extra point.

Callaway is off next week, and it will begin its Region 5-AA schedule on Oct. 5 with a home game against Lamar County.

The Cavaliers will be going for their third consecutive region championship.