Florala falls to Rocky Bayou, 30-25

Published 11:54 pm Friday, October 31, 2008

James Kaim and the rest of his Rocky Bayou teammates spoiled Florala’s homecoming Friday night as the Knights topped the Wildcats, 30-25, in a back-and-forth affair.

Trailing 24-19, Florala (1-8) scored on a 1-yard run by Hunter Oswald with 7:56 left in the game to go back in front 25-24, following a missed two-point conversion.

But Rocky Bayou, which picked up its first win of the season, responded with a five-play, 56-yard scoring drive of its own. Kaim scored from 1 yard out with 6:06 left and put his team back in the lead, 30-25.

The Wildcats attempted a game-winning drive, moving down to the Rocky Bayou 37-yard-line with 1:28 left before calling a timeout. Florala tried to use a trick play when quarterback Zach Fleming pitched to wide receiver Eric Bess, who then went back to pass. But Bess’s pass was intercepted by Rocky Bayou’s Dion Wright, and the Knights kneeled out the clock the rest of the way.

“Rocky Bayou did a good job of coming out in the second half and basically running it down our throats,” Florala coach Stan Gooden said. “But our guys finally did a good job of playing four quarters of football tonight. We had a few mistakes and some costly penalties, but we can take plenty of positives from this game.

“We’re going to hit the weight room right away and get ready for next season.”

Kaim finished with 24 carries for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

Florala took an early 6-0 lead when Fleming hooked up with Caleb McClendon for a 56-yard touchdown with 5:09 remaining in the first quarter. Fleming threw McClendon a short pass in the flat and the receiver broke away down the left sideline for the score.

Rocky Bayou’s Chris Hinson hit a 28-yard field goal with 58 seconds left in the first to halve the Wildcats’ lead.

Florala scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, on a 2-yard run by Oswald and a 56-yard reception by Shane Taunton. Kaim had a 4-yard touchdown run for Rocky Bayou in the quarter, as the Wildcats headed into halftime with a 19-10 lead.

That lead did not last long.

Rocky Bayou came out with intensity at the start of the second half, beginning with a 24-yard kickoff return by Kaim that put the Knights at midfield to start their drive. Kaim did all of the work on the scoring drive, with runs of 7 and 33 yards before scoring from 10 yards out. A fumbled extra point snap kept the Wildcats still in the lead, 19-16.

Florala did not fare much better on its ensuing offensive possession. On the second play of the drive, Fleming was hit in the backfield, and Wright recovered a fumble and returned it 25 yards to put the Knights in front 24-19 after a successful two-point conversion with 9:46 left in the third quarter.

“I would say they came out in the second half a little more inspired than we were,” Gooden said. “But we finally kicked it up there toward the end of the third quarter. Our kids played hard, and cut out those mistakes or those turnovers, and it might have been a different ball game.”

Friday night’s game marked the end of Gooden’s first season as varsity coach of the Wildcats. He thanked his seniors for toughing out what was, at times, a rough year.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the seniors,” he said. “Eric Robbins, Eric Bess, Adam Resendiz, Dustin Hinson and Shane Taunton. Going into the season, we had only one guy who had played varsity football last year, and some of those guys had never played and wanted to come out and try to be leaders. I think they did a good job.”