Yellow Jackets rally past Opp

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 21, 2002

For most of the first half of its game against the visiting Ashford Yellow Jackets, it appeared that the magic of Homecoming might translate into a big victory for Jeff Rhodes' Opp Bobcats.

Unfortunately, however, for the host Bobcats, their own mistakes plus big plays by the visiting Jackets proved to be the difference, as Ashford (7-1) rallied from an 18-0 deficit to beat the Bobcats 33-18 at Channell-Lee Stadium last night.

The loss drops Opp to 3-5 on the season.

"We played hard, and good at times, but we just made too many mistakes," said Rhodes. "Ashford is a good team, but we just made way too many mistakes to win."

Ashford began the game in shaky fashion as on its first possession the Jackets fumbled giving the ball to Opp on the Ashford 21-yard line.

Five plays into the series, Opp jumped on top early, via a 1-yard run by Brock Kelley at the 7:50 mark. Tyrell Hunter scored on the two-point conversion and Opp had an 8-0 lead, with the huge crowd at Channell-Lee enjoying the action early.

A key play on the drive was a 9-yard run by quarterback Daniel Coleman on a crucial 3rd-and-7 play which kept the drive alive.

Ashford went totally backwards on its ensuing possession and the series was halted when the Jackets fumbled into the end zone for an Opp safety at the 6:49 mark, adding two more points to the Bobcat total and increasing the lead to 10-0.

Late in the second quarter, the Bobcats set up shop at the Yellow Jacket 34 following an Ashford punt.

Led by the running of Coleman, the sophomore signal-caller, the Bobcats quickly marched to the Jacket 6, and from here Kelley scored on a running play at the 4:59 mark. Coleman connected with Hunter on the two-point play and the score was now 18-0.

Key plays in the scoring drive included runs of 14 and 7 yards by Coleman.

The celebration for the Bobcats did not last long, however, as Anthony Crawford took the ensuing kickoff and dashed 80 yard to paydirt. The extra point was true and suddenly the Yellow Jackets finally got their fans into the game although Opp still held an 18-7 advantage.

Opp was unable to generate anything on its next possession, and were forced to punt the ball away.

Ashford was able to take over in good field position at the Opp 29, and on the first play of the series, Anthony Marshall dashed 20 yards to move the ball to the Bobcat 9.

Three plays later, quarterback Neil Brackin scored on a 1-yard keeper at the 1:34 mark.

Brackin connected with Travand Dawsey on the two-point play and by halftime Ashford had cut the advantage to 18-15 and appeared to have momentum going into the intermission.

The third quarter did not begin in good fashion for the Bobcats as they were forced to kick the ball away to begin the period and a 7-yard punt set the Jackets up in good shape with the pigskin at the Opp 19.

Three plays later, Demetrius Melton scored on a 6-yard run at the 8:18 mark. The extra point was no good, but Ashford had rallied to take a 21-18 lead.

Opp punted again on its next possession and Ashford took over the ball on the Jacket 16.

Seven plays into the series, Brackin took it in from four yards out. The PAT was not true but Ashford had increased its lead to 27-18.

The next Opp possession resulted in a fumble and heading into the fourth quarter, the Bobcats were trying to find a way to stop the slide, down by nine points.

Following a punt by Opp, Ashford was able to get the ball back at the Jacket 42.

Opp's defense appeared to hold the Yellow Jacket offense as Ashford set up to punt late in the fourth, but instead Crawford took the ball on a fake kick and rambled 42 yards for a touchdown.

The Bobcats were intercepted on their next series and Ashford was able to effectively run clock for the rest of the game.

Opp was able to get a late deep completion from Coleman to Lane Fuller, but Fuller was tackled as the clock expired.

Opp hopes to bounce back next Friday night as the Bobcats hit the road for a contest against Geneva at 7:30 p.m.