Sometimes a football game actually does comes down to that’s just how the ball bounces.
With 1:45 left on the clock, and his team trailing by two, Franklin County junior Abner Ramirez launched a 38-yard field goal try that hit square in the middle of the crossbar, and rebounded back on the field.
The carom secured a hard-fought 30-28 win, and Apalachicola River Valley conference championship, for the Cottondale Hornets.
“It looked good. I was just praying it didn’t go in,” said Tyler Addison, now in his fourth year as head coach of the Hornets (7-1, 6-0 district),
Ramirez, who nailed all four of his extra points, had just minutes before delighted a cheering crowd at Mikel Clark Stadium when he placed a perfect coffin corner kick that pinned Cottondale back on their 5. The Hornets advanced to their 38, but on a fourth-and-two, the tackling of Seahawk senior Jesse Page and junior Bailey Segree turned the ball back to the Seahawks, setting up their final dramatic drive and Ramirez’s near miss.
““I’d do it again, he earned his chance to do it,” said Seahawk coach Tony Yeomans. “He just missed it a little bit. It hurts to lose one like that.”
The Seahawks had jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, scoring on their opening drive when senior Dalyn Sheridan ran it in from 9.
After Seahawk freshman defensive back Lamarius Martin intercepted a fourth-down pass from Hornet senior quarterback Cameron Brooks to end Cottondale’s opening drive, Franklin County ran just three plays before junior speedster Ethan Riley broke an 80-yard sweep around right end to give his team a two-touchdown lead.
Brooks wasted little time getting his team on the board in the second quarter, running the ball in from the 20 with 11 minutes left in the half, followed by a two point conversion on a pass to senior Will Price.
Three minutes later, after Martin hit Riley with a 20-yard pass for a first down on the Cottondale 35, Sheridan scored his second touchdown of the night, on a 12-yard burst, to give Franklin County a 21-8 lead.
The Hornets continued pressing their ground game, and with 43 seconds left in the half, Brooks ran it in on a third-and-goal from the 5, and rushed for the two-point conversion, to narrow the Seahawk margin to 21-16.
An interception by Hornet junior Eriq Hendricks ended the Seahawks’ hopes of padding their lead on the final drive of the half.
“In the first half we were kind of shaky,” said Addison. “We did a little better on it the second half.”
Midway through the third quarter, after connecting on a 16-yard pass to sophomore Jimmy Price that put Cottondale in the red zone, Brooks ran it in from the 1 for his team’s go-ahead score. Riley batted down Brooks’ two-point conversion flip and the Hornets had a 22-21 lead.
The Seahawk drive ended when the Hornets stopped Sheridan on a fourth-and-inches try at the Cottondale 45. Two plays later, Brooks scampered 38 yards to put his team on the Seahawk 19. On a fourth-and-goal, junior quarterback Delvin Barnes hit senior Brady Hill in the corner for the score, and Price rushed for the two-point conversion, for a 30-21 lead.
Seahawk junior Rufus Townsend scooped up the onside kick and advanced it to the Hornets’ 27, as the third quarter came to an end.
A 15-yard run by Martin advanced the ball to the 12, and then the freshman quarterback flipped a touchdown pass to senior Christian Amison to put the Seahawks within striking distance.
Brooks finished the night with 200 yards on 30 carries, and three rushing touchdowns and two two-point conversion runs. He was 4 for 6 from the air for 40 yards.
Price, who stepped in for the injured junior running back Dominique Pittman, had 21 carries for 116 yards, and a two-point conversion run. Senior Amari Banks caught four passes for 24 yards, and had four carries for 12 yards.
The Hornets close out their regular season at Graceville Friday, while Franklin County travels to Wewahitchka Friday night and hosts Munroe the week after.
“The season is not over, we still have a chance at the playoffs,” said Yeomans. “We’ll see how it goes. We’re going to hurt tonight and we’ll hurt tomorrow and we’ll be back to practice and get ready for Wewa.”