Vols ‘escape’ Selma

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 9, 2007

Saints play second straight game down to wire

By George L. Jones

The Selma Times-Journal

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Selma must like playing heart attack games, or so it seems.

For the second week in a row, the Saints were involved in a dogfight that was decided by two points.

This time the Saints found themselves on the short end of the equation.

Selma (1-1, 0-1 Region) lost 14-12 to Jeff Davis at Memorial Stadium Friday and scored its most important touchdown in the closing seconds of the ball game.

The talk in the postgame huddle made it apparent the disappointment from the loss didn’t match the optimism for the rest of the season.

“I’m proud of my kids. They played hard even though people didn’t give them a chance,” Selma coach Brian Montgomery said. “This is the best Selma High School game vs. Jeff Davis since 1990 because that’s the last time we beat them. Jeff Davis knows they escaped out of here with a win.”

A pivotal play for both teams came late in the fourth quarter when Jeff Davis quarterback Courtney Burkett punted the ball on third down. The punt was blocked, and Selma defenders covered Burkett up as he fell on the ball near the red zone.

After a debate over whether or not to award Selma possession stopped the game for nearly 10 minutes, the Volunteers were given the ball and punted it on fourth down.

Selma took over on its own 32 and later in the drive scored its first touchdown since the 2:24 mark of the second quarter. Keaton Spears stepped under center for injured quarterback Justin Brown and ran a stretch play three yards for a score.

With 3.3 seconds left, Selma needed a 2-point conversion to extend the game. A pass interference call on the first try moved Selma a yard and half closer to the goal line. Justin Moorer-Jones tried to bust up the middle but was stopped inches from the goal line.

The Saints tried an onside kick that rolled far short of 10 yards but bounced off a Vols player. Selma recovered and had one final play for the win.

Brown re-entered the game and gave the ball to Rakeem Harris for a tailback pass. The throw hit Patrick Bonner in the numbers but was 35 yards short of a touchdown.

If there was one area where things broke down for Jeff Davis, it was special teams. Javier Morillo didn’t help the Vols extend their lead when he missed a 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and had a 24-yarder blocked later on.

Selma kicker Emmanuel Moore had a pair of long punts that pinned Jeff Davis deep in its own territory, including one inside the 20-yard line.

“(Special teams) almost cost us the football game,” Vols coach Duane McWhorter said. “A lot of people don’t spend a lot of time practicing that, but we stress it. We’re going to show the kids the film and show them how important it is.”

The Vols (2-0) scored all their points in the first half. Burkett, who was Jeff Davis’ leading rusher with 47 yards, punched in a 3-yarder with 9:42 left in the second.

Selma ate up more than seven minutes of clock on 12 plays during the following possession. T-Ray Mitchell scored on a 3-yard run, but the Vols’ held a one-point lead after Moore missed the point after.

Jeff Davis came right back on the next drive, and Burkett hit J.J. Gray for a 21-yard score.

Mitchell led Selma with 51 yards on 12 carries, and Brown was 8-for-24 passing with 149 yards.

With the next two region games on the road at Sidney Lanier and Carver-Montgomery, the Saints are still confident about being a strong team for the duration of the season.

“Everything has been gained from this because they see how good they can be,” Montgomery said. “We’re in good shape. We’re in real good shape.”