Last-seconds field goal gives Straughn 1st win

Published 2:36 am Saturday, October 14, 2017

By Jon Johnson
The Dothan Eagle

Straughn’s Clay Ashberry made his first field goal attempt of the season a memorable one as he knocked through a 34-yarder as time expired to give the Tigers a 17-15 win over Houston Academy Friday night at Northcutt Field.

The game-winner came after Houston Academy’s Henry Beckett had drilled a 41-yard field goal – his third made kick of the night – with 2:19 left in the game to put the Raiders in position to win.

But Straughn, beginning its winning drive on its 10-yard line after receiving a personal foul on the kickoff, got in position for the kick when Cade Courson made a fantastic catch between three defenders with eight seconds left down to the HA 16 on a fourth-and-4 play.

With no timeouts left, quarterback Chandler Mitchell then spiked the ball to stop the clock with six ticks left and Ashberry came on for the kick.

“I was just hoping I was going to hit it good and not miss and shank it like I did the first time,” Ashberry said in reference to an extra point attempt he missed wide left and short following the first Straughn touchdown of the game.

Ashberry, who also plays right tackle on offense and nose guard on defense, certainly hit it good given another opportunity as it split the uprights.

The winning kick wouldn’t have happened if Courson hadn’t come up with the huge catch under heavy coverage on the fourth down play.

“I just went up for it and hoped for the best,” Courson said. “I just went and got it.”

It marked the first victory of the season for Straughn (1-5) and was another devastating loss for Houston Academy (0-8), which has now lost 17 straight over two seasons.

The Raiders got on the scoreboard in the first quarter when Beckett nailed a 39-yard field goal at the 4:48 mark for a 3-0 lead, which is where the score stood at halftime.

Houston Academy did have several big plays defensively in the opening half, including a tackle by Carson Chason and Joel Hewes for no gain on a fourth-and-1 play for Straughn at the HA 30 on the second play of the second quarter. Garrett Dovre also came up with a fumble on Straughn’s next series.

Straughn came out strong in the second half, taking the opening drive 58 yards in 10 plays to score when Mitchell found a crease up the middle on a quarterback keeper for a 19-yard run into the end zone. Ashberry’s extra point attempt missed, leaving the score at 6-3.

The Raiders’ next score was set up following a fine defensive play by Mitchell Armstrong, who jolted loose the football after a hit on a Straughn receiver and Drew Armstrong picked up the fumble around the Tigers’ 25 and returned it down to the 12.

Though the Raiders were unable to move it into the end zone, Beckett tied the game with a 24-yard field goal in making it 6-6 with 1:37 to play in the third quarter.

Straughn regained the lead on the ensuing possession, moving 80 yards in 10 plays to score when Brandon Hudson went in from 2 yards out to complete the drive. On the play before, Hudson bulled his way for 28 yards – carrying a pack of defenders for about 15 yards before finally going down.

After the touchdown, Ashberry missed wide right on the extra point attempt, but Houston Academy was whistled for offsides. The Tigers then went for two, and Mitchell took it in over the right side to make it 14-6 with 9:36 to play in the game.

Houston Academy then drove down on its next drive to score when Mitchell Armstrong, sprinting to his right, found Drew Armstrong behind the secondary and connected with a nice pass for a 12-yard touchdown toss.

Earlier in the drive, Mitchell Armstrong threw a 12-yard pass to Colton Carpenter, a 13-yard pass to Calvin Nowell and another 13-yard pass to Chason to set up the TD pass.

Houston Academy, down 14-12, went for two, but Mitchell Armstrong was knocked out of bounds just short of the goal line as he went over the right side.

On Straughn’s next possession, Banks Nichols came up with a big fumble recovery for HA at the 32 of the Tigers, which set up Beckett’s third made field goal to give the Raiders a 15-14 lead before Straughn rallied for the win.

Hudson had a big game rushing for Straughn, compiling 127 yards on 15 carries.