The Terrell Academy Eagles from Dawson, GA swept into Woodbury last Friday night confident they would pick up their second win. With the talent and speed of their quarterback and go-to-man, Keaton Icard, they almost did. But Bobby Smith's Wildcat team was relentless in their determination to stay on top of the score. Although the game was one truly measured in inches and came down to one last play with three seconds on the clock, the Wildcat defense prevailed to earn the win 24-21.
FRA was first to get on the scoreboard. Griffin Hale had an impressive 44 yard run off right tackle that let Travis Strickland on the next play take the ball into the end zone from the twenty. FRA's kicking game is non existent with the duties being passed around from Chet Harris to Chris Gregg to Chance Gooch. The PAT after the first TD was no good and from there on, the Cats went for two point conversions.
Terrell's first possession was ineffective and ended with a punt. The Cats' possession, while slowed by four penalties, saw Harris hand off to Hale and Strickland for small gains and first downs before Ethan Rowe swept left and dashed downfield for 39 yards to let the Cats set up in the red zone. Sophomore Ben Gilson, off balance but in the end zone, snagged Harris' pass for the Cats' second TD. The pass to Swint for two points was no good, but FRA led 12-0.
Terrell's passes went incomplete as Chet Harris and Jonathon Swint stayed close on the defensive coverage, and the Eagles running game was stopped by Daniel Garrett, Dallas Gibson, and Trent Griffin. FRA clearly was in the driver's seat when their luck started to turn. After fifteen plays downfield highlighted by a 20 yard gain by Hale, the Cats couldn't punch it on in and get the score.
Terrell took over and from the FRA 7 yard line, Icard hit Bishop with a 29 yard pass finding FRA's weak spot in the secondary. Strickland, Garrett, and Gibson stopped the running game so the Eagles kept going to the air and Icard hit Bishop for their first score. With the PAT good, the score was 12-7.
Terrell opened the second half and in twelve plays drove down for their next score. Two FRA penalties and good fakes by Icard kept the Wildcat defense on its toes. Chase Williams and Ben Gilson made stops as the Eagles seemed to explore every weak opening in the FRA defense. Hale hit Icard hard for a loss but then Icard hit his receiver Farr for a TD pass and with Terrell's PAT good, the Eagles led 14-12.
First year player Chase Williams turned loose his speed and returned the kick 18 yards making fans look forward to watching his talent develop for kick off returns. FRA's next six play drive and touchdown stunned the Eagles. Travis Strickland had 15 and 8 yards gains that saw half of the Eagle team with a hand on the senior trying to drag him to a stop. Hale plowed through the Eagle defense and had a 17 yard gain before Harris swept left for twenty yards and the score. Strickland ran left for the two points but came up short. The Cats regained the lead 18-14.
FRA had several magical moments in the Eagles' next drive: Griffin Hale took flight and sailed into number 5 to give the Eagles a 7 yard loss, and Chris Gregg broke through and sacked the quarterback. Icard threw long and just as the pass looked devastating for FRA, Jonathon Swint went up for the jump ball, wrestled it away from the Eagle receiver and came down with the interception. On the 8 yard line Travis Strickland skipped off right tackle, surrounded and nearly dragged down, stayed on his feet, shot out of the muddle of players and made a foot race of the 92 yards into the end zone. "It felt awesome," Strickland said winded but ready to go in the game on the next play.
With FRA leading 24-14, Terrell tenaciously fought to catch up. Icard stunned the FRA secondary by hitting Farr with the same dunk pass over the middle used for every Terrell score. Farr ran 62 yards for the score and with their PAT good, Terrell was dangerously close with the score 24-21.
Bobby Smith's ground game in the fourth quarter ate up the clock and maneuvered downfield. On 4th and 5 inside the twenty, the Cats' offense came up short and the ball went over to Terrell. With 2:42 on the clock, Terrell used the dunk pass to pick up 23 yards and the fear on the faces of the fans was evident as the Eagles could win if all went well. Working without time outs, Terrell drove downfield to the FRA 13 and had 36 seconds to score and win. On third down, Chet Harris was the hero as he batted down a pass in the end zone.
On 4th and 4 with the score 24-21 and 12 seconds on the clock, FRA called two time outs to remind younger players of their assignments, what to watch for, and remind them tackles were eligible to receive.
The Eagles set up for a field goal but Icard sprinted right before getting shoved out on the one yard line and picking up the first down. With 3.8 seconds to go Icard pushed up the middle from the one, but the Wildcats defense shoved the Eagles back as the clock ran out.
The Cats picked up 13 first downs to Terrell's 11, had 55 rushing plays to Terrell's 23, and gained 508 yards on the ground to Terrell's 84. FRA was 1 for 4 passing and Terrell completed 13 of 26 and suffered one interception. FRA picked up eight penalties to Terrell's three, and neither team had fumbles.
Leading ground gainer for the Cats was Travis Strickland with 200 yards on 23 carries followed by Hale who on 15 carries picked up 147 yards, Rowe had six carries for 111 yards and Harris 11 carries for 50 yards.
The FRA Wildcats will host the Dawson Street Wildcats from LaGrange next week in Woodbury.