Opp topples Elba, 21-20

Published 1:06 am Saturday, September 1, 2012

Opp’s Ta Bonham rushed for 72 yards Friday night on 18 carries. | Jeffrey Moore/Star-News

The Opp Bobcats had their hands full on Friday night as they hosted the defending 2A state champs, the Elba Tigers, in Channel-Lee Stadium.

The game was a back-and-forth affair in which each team traded scores, with Opp finally getting a big stop on a two-point conversion that would have vaulted the Tigers into the lead. Opp then held on to win by a score of 21-20.

Elba opened the scoring midway through the 1st quarter with a touchdown through the air from 19 yards out.

The PAT was blocked and with 5:15 remaining in the first, Elba led 6-0.

Opp answered at the end of the quarter with a score of their own, when running back Justin Adkins took a handoff around the end and scampered 27 yards into the endzone.

After a successful PAT, the Bobcats took a 7-6 lead with 1:54 left in the first quarter.

Elba opened the second quarter with a successful fourth-and-10 conversion, then moved the ball all the way down to Opp’s 8-yard line to set up a first-and-goal.

They then completed a touchdown pass, only to have it called back due to a holding penalty. This is when things got interesting.

A quarterback sack by the Bobcats pushed Elba back to the 33-yard line.

Another loss by Elba set them up for an almost impossible fourth-down and goal from the 36-yard line.

But senior quarterback Austin Johnson obviously wasn’t deterred as he scrambled around for a 36-yard touchdown run with 8:15 left in the half.

A successful 2-point conversion extended their lead to 14-7.

With the help of a pass interference penalty and some key drive-extending, first-down runs from freshman Opp QB Ty White, the Bobcats marched right back down the field to even the score when Onterrio Jones took a handoff up the middle from the 3-yard line into the endzone for the score with 3:15 remaining in the half.

The PAT was good, and they went into halftime with the score all knotted up, 14-14.

After a scoreless third quarter, Opp forced the Tigers to punt the ball away to open the final quarter of play.

The punt was muffed, but the Bobcats recovered, and took over at their own 33-yard line to begin their final scoring drive.

A 15-yard run by White moved Opp down to the 13-yard line.

Jones then reached pay-dirt for the second time on the night on a second-and-7 touchdown run from 9 yards out. The PAT was good and Opp led by a score with 2:05 left in the game.

Elba quickly returned the squib to their own 45-yard line and after an incomplete pass on first down, completed a 32-yard bomb to Darrean Burks all the way down to Opp’s 23 yard line.

On the next play, a 17-yard rush set up a first and goal.

Running back Darrean Burks scored on the very next play with a 6-yard touchdown score to pull within a point of the lead with 59 seconds left in the game.

Elba’s kicking team then trotted onto the field, seemingly to attempt to tie the game with an extra-point.

But head coach Scott Rials changed his mind, as he then called a time-out to think things over.

Coming out of the time-out, Elba’s offense re-entered the field of play to go for the win with a 2-point conversion.

Opp head coach Jack Whigham then countered with a time-out of his own to set his defense, then both teams re-took the field to make the game winning, or saving play.

Elba quarterback took the shotgun snap, dropped back, scrambled to avoid the pass rush, then sailed the ball over the head of the receiver.

The 2-point conversion was no good, and Opp remained in the lead with less than a minute to play.

Elba’s onside kick was unsuccessful, and White kneeled out the rest of the clock, preserving the victory for the home-team Bobcats.

A Gatorade-soaked Whigham couldn’t have been more excited.

“We’ve had a long hard battle,” he said. “They’re the defending 2A state champions and we hadn’t beat them in a while. We need to feel good about this.”

He also added some encouraging words about his young football team. “I can’t tell you we’re going to win every game,” Whigham said. “I can’t tell you we’re going to do everything right. But I can tell you that we’re going to play hard.”

Ta Bonham had 72 rushing yards on 18 carries. Jones added 44 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. Atkins had a 27-yard touchdown run as well. Opp’s quarterbacks combined to go 5-8 for 31 yards through the air. The Bobcats travel to Brewton next week to face T.R. Miller to open region play.