by Rob Grubbs
The Fayette County Tigers traveled to Pike County Friday night to face the Pirates for their final tune-up before region play. In a game that was 14-7 at halftime, the second half turned into an offensive shootout where both teams moved up and down the field with big plays, the Pirates prevailing 41-35.
The Tigers could have changed the outcome with just one more possession as they were unstoppable in the fourth quarter. They simply ran out of time.
With one minute remaining in the game, the Tiger defense needed a stop for a final chance to score. The Pirates converted for a first down and Fayette was left shaken by a scary injury on the play. While the medical staff attended to the player, there was a stark reminder of the character of the coaches, players, and fans of both teams. While the final score is often what teams are judged on, it is easy to forget that these young men are future leaders, and the investment that Tiger head vouch Mike Davis and his staff pour into them in moments like this carry forward for years. Thankfully, the player escaped serious injury.
The Pirate offense was led by senior tailback C’bo Flemister, a preseason All-State selection who has committed to play college ball at Georgia Southern. Flemister gained 296 yards on 31 carries and scored 4 touchdowns against a Tiger defense focused on stopping him.
After falling behind 7-0 early in the game, the Tigers showed their big play potential when sophomore quarterback JeKobe Coleman hit Jordan Turner for a 66-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with two minutes left in the first quarter. While the Pirates were grinding out yardage with Flemister and their running game, the Tigers showed they could score quickly from anywhere on the field.
The Pirates took a low-scoring 14-7 lead to the locker room at the half, but it didn’t take long for the fireworks to start in the second half. Pike County fumbled on the second play from scrimmage, and Reggie Booker scooped up the loose ball and returned it for a 35-yard touchdown. A failed conversion left the Tigers down 14-13, and Nakeem Murphy returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Just two plays later, the Tigers fumbled, which the Pirates quickly converted for another scored. In total, three touchdowns were scored in two minutes.
With the Tigers now down 26-13, they played catch up for rest of the evening. It was a role the they responded to well. They fought back quickly, and when Cory Andrews scored on a 23-yard run, they were back to within a touchdown.
The Pirates scored at the end of the third quarter, and the Tigers followed suit with a 71- yard scoring drive that included big completions to Turner and Evilio Nixon, culminating in Andrews’ second touchdown of the night from one yard out. It was their only trip into the red zone, and they converted. Their other offensive touchdowns were 66, 23, and 29 yards respectively. The Tigers offense was getting better as the game progressed.
Another touchdown by the Pirates brought a similar response, a four-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by a 51-yard pass to Turner and a 29-yard touchdown pass from Coleman to Booker to put the game at 41-35 with four minutes remaining. With one stop, the Tigers could take the lead and game. Unfortunately that stop didn’t come and time expired.
“I am proud of the way we fought, of how we came together, how we never gave up,” said Coach Davis. “We made some big plays. We gave up some big plays, but we kept fighting, and we know this will make us better.”
Coleman had a solid game under center, passing for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions, as the Tiger offense continues to gain confidence. The Tiger defense held the Pirates to only 13 yards passing, and the offensive line played strong the entire game.
Javon Coleman had an outstanding game on defense, racking up 13 tackles and 3 sacks. Jaylan Coleman led the team in tackles with 16, followed by Karlen Samples with 12 and Jared Nedd with 11.
The Tigers (1-3), who have a bye this week, will adopt the “next game mentality.” They need to put their foot on the gas to prepare for Riverdale on the road for a Thursday night game September 28. The march to the playoffs will begin then.