Opp falls to Ashford in OT

Published 2:01 am Saturday, October 3, 2009

ASHFORD — As the captains for Ashford and Opp met at midfield to prepare for the game’s overtime period, an Ashford coach grabbed his visor and took a deep breath.

“Just what we thought it would be,” he said. “A dadgum war.”

The game between the two Class 4A, Region 2 adversaries came down to the wire, with Ashford ultimately prevailing, 33-27, in overtime.

Ashford scored to begin overtime with a 4-yard touchdown run by Malvin Anderson to make it 33-27, but the Yellow Jackets missed the extra point to give Opp hope.

After three unsuccessful attempts, Opp faced a fourth-and-goal from the 4. Quarterback Gavin Free faked a handoff and the Opp tight end released from the line, but the defense resisted the fake and covered the receiver.

Free tried to scramble to his left, but was slowed by a charging Clifford Wesley. That allowed a host of Yellow Jackets to swarm Free at the 3 and end the game.

“We had a chance to score and win the game,” Opp coach Jack Whigham said. “We weren’t able to gain any yards on first and second down, and we were forced to throw it. We just came up a little short.”

Ashford improved to 3-1 in region play and 4-2 overall. Opp fell to 1-3 and 2-4.

“This was just an unbelievable, fun high school football game,” Ashford coach Chip Harris said. “The biggest thing is that we learned to win a close one. We talked about going out to win and not playing not to lose.”

The game was close throughout, with neither team leading by more than a touchdown, but it looked as if Ashford would win the game in regulation. The game was tied 14-14 at the half, but Ashford struck in one play after recovering an Opp fumble to start the third quarter. The Yellow Jackets employed a double reverse flea-flicker pass, using running back Mike Ray to launch a 52-yard bomb to Bradley Raybon, who hauled the pass in for a 21-14 lead.

Opp answered in less than 45 seconds. A long kickoff return and a penalty put the Bobcats deep in Ashford territory, and Opp scored when Quadir Kincaid plunged in from 1 yard out. The extra point failed and Ashford led 21-20.

Ashford scored again early in the third quarter on an 11-yard inside reverse by Anderson. Harris decided to try a fake on the extra point, but Demichael Wigfall was stopped short, making it 27-20 with 8:36 left.

Opp answered quickly again. Free connected with Britt Wilson on a post route for a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-5 with 4:19 left in the game. The extra point tied it and sent the game into overtime.

“I really think that Ashford played their best game of the year against us,” Whigham said. “My kids played as hard as they could play. We had our backs against the wall late, but we came back to tie it up and I’m proud of the kids for fighting.”

Ashford’s first half scores came on a 6-yard halfback pass from Ray to Anderson and a 29-yard pass from James Gardner to Ray. Opp scored on a 5-yard run by Josh Scarbrough and a 1-yard Scarbrough run on the first half’s final play.

Ray finished the game with 16 carries for 121 yards, caught a 29-yard touchdown pass, threw for touchdown passes of 6 and 52 yards, and forced a fumble.

Ashford had 116 passing yards and 238 rushing. Opp had 137 passing yards and 159 rushing yards.

The Bobcats currently have just one region win, but every loss has been close. Opp’s other two region losses were a 20-14 loss to Holtville and a 20-17 loss to St. James, where the Trojans scored the winning touchdown with just 4.7 seconds left.

“Our backs are against the wall now,” Whigham said. “We’ve got to win out in the region to still have a shot (at the playoffs), and even then there’s no guarantees. But that would at least give us a glimmer of hope.”

Opp hosts Bullock County next Friday at 7 p.m.