In a crazy game with a climactic finish Friday night, Montgomery Bell Academy almost gave one away but pulled out a 24-21 rally past McCallie.
The Big Red cut the host Blue Tornado's margin to 21-17 less than two minutes into the fourth period and grabbed their three-point lead on a 46-yard run down the sideline by Tony Drew to move within a game of .500 at 4-5 with a game to go in the regular season.
"It was a crazy, crazy game," MBA coach Marty Euverard said later.
The game was marked by some unusual calls, from an offensive facemask penalty to a horsecollar tackle in the end zone that negated what would have been a McCallie safety. MBA had a couple of drives blunted by turnovers and McCallie connected and misfired on a handful of big plays, and the winning score came from a backup tailback.
"This is a big boost for the team -- to go on the road and get a win in one of the best regions in the state," Euverard said.
McCallie marched back down the field in the final 1:55, getting within field-goal range at the MBA 23-yard line, setting up what would have been a 40-yard attempt for senior kicker Arturo Rocha. The Big Red called a pair of timeouts, trying to ice the Tornado senior, then sliced 5 yards off his attempt with an illegal-participation penalty.
With four seconds left on the clock, McCallie got the snap down but Rocha pulled the kick, allowing MBA to hold on for the win.
"Arturo hits these all year long. You put him out there 10 times and he's going to make seven or eight," McCallie coach Bubba Simmons said.
It shouldn't have come down to Rocha's kick, though.
"We had our chances. The effort was good. We played hard," Simmons told his team. "We just didn't execute on three or four plays. It wasn't offense; it wasn't just defense."
MBA grabbed the initial lead, sweeping downfield on its first series before quarterback Aaron Simonis' 30-yard run.
McCallie countered to tie and then go ahead on a a 3-yard run by Trent Lusk and a 1-yard run by Daniel McClure. But MBA bounced back to tie on Simonis' 7-yard run with 24 seconds left in the first half.
The Blue Tornado broke the deadlock midway of the third period on Lusk's second score, a 1-yard run, but they'd score no more, watching Landon Bullock knock home a 22-yard field goal at the 5:32 mark of the final period and then Drew's 36-yard run for the eventual winning score.
Drew was in the game because of an injury to Jamal Wright, the player who was tackled in the end zone. Wright managed to walk off the field but did not return to the game.
McCallie may have lost the right to host a first-round playoff game. It looks now as if the Blue Tornado will travel in that first round to Battle Ground Academy. McCallie lost to BGA earlier this year.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...