Miller holds off Opp

Published 12:05 am Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hennis Washington burst down the sideline.

In a sloppy wet slugfest for the top spot in Class 3A, Region 1, the No. 4 T.R. Miller Tigers (6-1, 4-0) held off the No. 6 Opp Bobcats in the final seconds for a 27-26 victory Friday night at Channell-Lee Stadium.

Opp started off the game with ball and immediately began marching down the field on solid runs from Hennis Washington, Orlando Lacey and Raheem Bonam. The drive started on the Bobcats’ 35-yard line, but stalled out in the T.R. Miller red zone. The Tigers stopped Washington on a fourth down play, and took over at their own 12-yard line.

T.R. Miller didn’t keep the ball for very long, though. On the third play of the drive, Opp’s Darian Germany put a big hit on Tiger running back Ahmad Taylor that jarred the ball free. Ty White was right there to pounce on the pigskin for the Bobcats.

Opp took over on the Tigers’ 28-yard line, but after two incompletions and a 5-yard loss the Bobcats were forced to punt.

The booming punt from Alex Wise bounced at the Tigers’ 12-yard line before coming to a stop at the 3-yard line.

The Opp defense stepped up in a big way, and forced the Tigers to punt following a three-and-out.

On the next play for the Bobcats, Bonam broke around the right side and picked around 20 yards before being brought down. The next play Bonam hit the edge again and picked up 16 more yards to set the Bobcats up inside the 10-yard line.

Facing another fourth down near the goal line, Lacey kept the ball on a read and forced his way 4 yards for the score.

The extra point attempt was no good, but the Bobcats led 6-0 with 10:32 left in the first half.

It didn’t take long for the Tigers to respond, as Markail Mitchell sprinted 39 yards on the drive’s third play and following the extra point, the Tigers were on top 7-6 with 9:10 left in the first half.

The Tigers forced the Bobcats to punt on the next possession after holding to a three-and-out.

The Tigers managed to pick up a first down after facing a fourth-and-three, but Caleb Winton lost the handle on the ball and Opp’s Evan King fell on the ball for the recovery.

Opp picked up 9 yards on the next play for Lacey, and then Washington reeled off a 55-yard run to set the Bobcats up with first-and-goal. The Tigers’ defense was in bend but don’t break mode and forced the Bobcats to attempt a field goal. The field goal attempt was no good, and the Tigers took over at their own 20-yard line with five minutes left.

Mitchell took the next play 22 yards and then went for 13 yards for another first down. Mitchell picked up his third first down of the drive when Winton flipped a shovel pass to him and then he picked up 25 yards. Two plays later with 44 seconds left on the clock in the first half, Winton lobbed a pass to end zone where Chardian Johnson hauled in the pass for a touchdown. Hunter Britton split the uprights on the PAT to put the Tigers up 14-6 heading into halftime.

Both teams exchanged punt to start the second half, and the Bobcats got the first points of the half when Lacey connected with Reggie Thompson on screen pass that Thompson took 15 yards for the score. The Bobcats lined up for two-points with Thompson lined up at quarterback, as he took the snap Thompson faked the run up the middle, leaped in the air and with his best Tim Tebow impression lobbed the ball to a wide open King for the conversion. With 4:34 seconds left in the third, the game was knotted 14-14.

On the ensuing kickoff, the ball took a strange bounce off a player on T.R. Miller’s front line and landed right in the hands of Opp’s Cody Richburg.

The Bobcats took over on their own 47-yard line, and three plays later Bonam broke free around the right side and went 33 yards for the score. The extra point was no good, but Opp regained the lead 20-14 with 3:50 left in the third.

The lead didn’t last long, however, as Taylor took the first play of the drive 65 yards to the end zone. The extra point was blocked and the game was tied, 20-20 with 3:35 left in the third.

The Tigers forced a punt from the Bobcats on the next possession, and then after the punt Taylor went 25 yards for the score, and Britton tacked on the extra point to put the Tigers up 27-20 with 25.9 seconds left in the third.

After punts from both teams, Opp took over with just under 10 minutes left to play, and Brooks Brown ended the Bobcat drive when he stepped in front of a pass from Lacey for an interception.

The Tigers took over on the Bobcats’ 9-yard line, but the Bobcats’ defense stood tall and forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs.

Opp took over on their own 20-yard line with 6:53 left in the game, and proceeded to drive down the field. The Bobcats picked up a big first down at the start of the drive when a T.R. Miller player was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after stopping a Bobcat player for a big loss.

The call energized the Bobcats, who then marched the rest of the way down the field and White capped off the drive with a powerful 4-yard touchdown run with just 12 seconds left on the clock.

Because of the wet and sloppy field, the Bobcats elected to go for two points and the win, but the Tigers’ defensive line blew the play up before it could ever get started.

The Bobcats attempted an onside kick, but it was unsuccessful.

“First thing, is that Opp is an outstanding football team,” Tigers’ coach Jamie Riggs said. “They have some of the best individuals that we have seen all season. The best thing we did tonight was just to hang in there. Every time it looked like we might open the game up, they stopped us. Anytime we can come in here and sneak out a victory it feels good.”

Washington led the way on the ground for the Bobcats with 154 yards and touchdown on 20 carries. Lacey was 12-for-20 passing with 124 yards a touchdown and an interception.

“There were a lot of things we did tonight that would normally make you happy,” Bobcats’ coach Brent Hill said, “but it’s hard to feel that way after you lose. The thing we have to be able to do is finish ball games. We never quit, but we have just got be able to finish. Our season is far from over, and I promise we will get better. Have to give a lot of respect to T.R. Miller, though. They won this game tonight, but I’m proud of my boys. We can do better and we will.”