Straughn defeats Providence Christian

Published 1:43 am Saturday, September 10, 2016

By Ken Rogers
The Dothan Eagle

Providence Christian quarterback Edwin Colley limped off the field after it was over. Straughn running back Triston Cobb did the same.

In a tough, physical game, the Tigers made a play or two more than Providence and earned a 21-14 Class 3A, Region 2 victory on the road Friday night.

Cobb finished with 122 yards rushing on 20 carries for the Tigers.

“I’m pretty tired,” Cobb said after the game. “They were a pretty solid team – good defense.”

But it was Straughn quarterback Christopher Hammett who broke a 14-all tie with an 8-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left in the game.

Late scores in both halves made the difference for Straughn (2-1, 1-1 region). Late in the second quarter with the score tied 6-all, the Tigers stopped a fake punt by Eli Yance at the Providence 47-yard line with 37.5 seconds left on the clock.

Straughn switched its punt return look and Providence coach Kenny Keith tried to get a timeout before the ball was snapped.

“I saw 10 (Matthew Worley) and 8 (Elijah Courson) over there and tried to call time and he didn’t hear me,” Keith said of the play. “I saw how they lined up and we couldn’t get the timeout.”

Two plays later, Hammett hit Jacob Hawkins for 33 yards to the 14-yard line. On the next snap, Hammett found Joseph Peeples for 10 yards to the 4 with 8.6 seconds remaining.

On first-and-goal, Worley, the Tigers’ linebacker who played quarterback in short-yardage situations, made a great run with second effort and found the end zone off right tackle as time expired. Hawkins took a sweep around left end and dove in for the two-point try that gave Straughn a 14-6 halftime lead.

Rather than hang their heads, the Eagles (2-2, 1-1 region) immediately got back in the game on the first possession of the second half. Colley gained 18 yards and a first down on third-and-10.

Two plays later, Colley pitched to freshman running back Wise Gordon, who had been effective in the first half. Gordon ran outside as Straughn’s Hawkins raced up to make the tackle. Gordon then pulled up and threw a strike in the right flat to Kade Seay, who was wide open. Seay took it the rest of the 51 yards to the end zone. Gordon scored the two-point conversion on a dive up the middle and tied the game at 14-all.

“We’ve had that play in years past, but we hadn’t run it this year,” Keith said. “We put it in for the game, trying to get something in the flats.”

It worked perfectly. “I’m proud of my kids,” Keith said. “They played hard and physical.”

Defenses controlled things for most of the game. Seay fumbled an exchange with Hammett and Brian Jones recovered for the Eagles on the Straughn 43. A pair of holding penalties on its next possession stalled Providence, which had a long run by Colley to about the 5-yard line negated by a flag.

Early in the fourth quarter, a nice punt by Yance pinned Straughn to its 10. Cobb ran on seven of the next eight plays, but the Tigers punted it back to Providence at the Eagles’ 17-yard line with 5:28 left in the game.

On third-and-10, Colley rolled to his right and was upended by Hawkins at the 16. The ball popped loose as he landed and Hawkins also recovered it at the Straughn 12 with 5:02 remaining in the game.

“I thought he was down, but I’m biased,” Keith admitted. “We’ll see it on the film.”

Straughn coach Christopher Wilson credited Hawkins’ hustle on the play.

“That’s what great about this game,” Wilson said of his senior. “You make a mistake and then you come back and cause a turnover at the end. As long as you keep playing, good things will happen.”

It got better for the Tigers. On third-and-6 from the 8, Hammett faked a handoff to Cobb and took a keeper off the right side for the touchdown. Michael Evers’ extra point kick made it 21-14 with 3:29 left.

Providence had two more possessions. Gordon threw an interception to the play-making Hawkins with 2:31 left. In the final minute, Colley scrambled for 24 to the Straughn 42 with 11 seconds left. After spiking the ball, he was sacked as time expired by Straughn’s Parker Grooms.

“We just came up a little short,” Keith said. “Give Straughn credit. They made some plays when they needed to. They’ve got a good football team. They’ve got an explosive offense and we did about as good as we could do defensively.”

Providence took a 6-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Seay picked up 17 yards off left tackle to put the Eagles at the Straughn 22. Gordon ran twice for a first down at the 10. Seay angled off left guard for 10 yards and a touchdown with 6:54 left in the first half. Hawkins blocked the extra point attempt.

Straughn answered with its first scoring drive. Cobb started it with a 37-yard gain up the middle. Hammett converted on third-and-8 with a 15-yard gain to the 12. Two plays later, Worley – playing the Tim Tebow role – scored on a keeper off right guard from 7 yards out with 4:19 left in the first half.

Gordon finished with 72 yards on 17 carries for Providence. Colley gained 56 yards on 13 attempts and Seay had 51 yards on 13 carries.

The Tigers play Wicksburg at home next week.