Straughn rallies past Opp

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2003

The Straughn Tigers beat the odds Friday night, in an exciting victory within the last minutes of gameplay over the Opp Bobcats, who were ranked ninth in the state in Class 4A. The Tigers, a 3A team, were not ranked going into the game but defeated the Bobcats by a final score of 22-19.

The performance on both sides was evenly matched in almost every respect of the game. The teams each displayed different strategies from the first to second half, but the Tigers pulled away with a narrow victory, 22-19.

The first half was characterized by stingy differences on both sides of the field. The Bobcats won the coin toss but chose to give the first possession to the Tigers. With nothing going for the Tigers on the first drive, including a couple of hand-offs for loss of yardage, they punted to Opp.

Opp's first drive did not turn out much different from the Tigers'. After an impressive shutdown of running back Jamocolis Stallworth on three downs, Straughn's defense forced Opp to punt.

The Tigers' next play, a pass from quarterback Justin Bracewell, was intercepted by Opp defensive end Mariel Mount.

Opp took over first down and goal to go, on three-yard line. Straughn's defense would not be deterred, however. They didn't allow Opp to break the

plane of the goal line in four downs, and Straughn took over.

The Tigers were able to run the ball a little better during the next drive. Running back Michael Hobbs and Bracewell were both successful in picking up a couple of first downs for the Tiger offense. A holding penalty on Straughn, however, pushed the offense back to the 18-yard line. With third down and 25 yards to go, Bracewell threw a 20-yard pass to Justin Freeney, which set up fourth down and six yards. Once again, they punted the ball back to Opp.

Two unsuccessful runs and one incomplete pass later, Opp also decided to punt the ball. Only it was blocked by a Tiger defender, which left Straughn's offense on about the 30-yard line. Bracewell kept the ball for a couple of carries for good yardage. On third down and about three yards to go, Bracewell ran up the middle for a 20-yard run into the end zone. The point after kick was good, and the Tigers were up 7-0.

During Opp's next possession, they fumbled and turned the ball over to Straughn on about the 35-yard line.

With the Tigers threatening once again, it looked as if the home team would capitalize on the situation. Opp's defense shut the drive down, however, and even pushed the offense back. Outside of field goal range, the Tigers were forced to punt.

Opp took over on Straughn's 40-yard line. The Tigers virtually drove the attempts from quarterback Daniel Coleman back for losses of yards. The Bobcats kicked on fourth down of the same drive, but a penalty for roughing the kicker called against Straughn automatically gave Opp a first down.

Opp was able to take advantage of the situation. Coleman threw to Jamison Stoudemire for about 25 yards, which gave the Bobcats a first down. The Tiger defense held the Bobcats to a fourth down and about a yard remaining situation. Jamocolis Stallworth ran it up the middle for about six yards into the end zone. The good PAT tied the score at 7 going into half-time.

Just as the first half was dominated by a defensive battle for both teams, the second half was dominated by aerial assaults by both teams.

Several incomplete passes forced the Bobcats to punt the ball.

The Tigers' next possession mirrored the Bobcats' first drive of the second half, and they punted back to Opp.

A pass from Coleman to Michael Hattaway resulted in an Opp touchdown, a total of about 70 yards on the play. A shanked PAT put Opp ahead 13-7.

A fumble on Struaghn's next drive left Opp in good field position. Coleman threw a 60-yard pass to Tyrell Hunter for another Bobcat touchdown. Another failed PAT left the score Opp on top 19-7.

Straughn, with nothing to show on the next drive, punted to Opp.

Opp fumbled and Al Freeney ran into the end zone, and a successful PAT

by Garett Windham made the score 19-14.

Opp's next drive resulted in a fourth down and one yard to go on Straughn's 45-yard line. They went for it, but were stopped by the Tiger defense.

With less than two minutes remaining, Bracewell threw to Dustin Wordy for the game-winning touchdown which covered 30 yards. A good two-point game Straughn a 22-19 lead.

Opp had one more attempt to score, but a pass just outside the reach of a receiver on third down sealed the fate of the game, with Straughn earning a 22-19 win.