JASPER, Tenn. — It looked like Marion County was going to dodge a bullet and maintain its unbeaten streak.
With five seconds left in Friday night's game against visiting Central, the Warriors were preparing for a chip-shot field goal and their fourth win of the year. And the kick had plenty of height and more than enough length, but it skimmed just outside the right upright, allowing rejuvenated Central to secure a 21-19 victory and break a two-game losing streak.
"I was glad to see the fight," Purple Pounders coach John Allen told his team after the come-from-behind victory. "That's what I've been looking for."
Allen praised the offensive linemen for their play, especially in the second half as Central rebounded from a 19-7 deficit.
The real key, though, was a decision to go from the spread offense back to Allen's bread-and-butter -- the wing-T. Then the Pounders finally realized they could run wide on the Warriors, who entered the game 3-0.
"I like it better," quarterback Scout Morgan said of the wing-T. "It worked out for us."
Morgan scored what would be the winning touchdown with 2:35 to play, and it came on a busted play when one of the backs failed to go in motion.
"It worked out fine, though. The line blocked and I was able to get in," he said.
It was Morgan's first and only carry of the game, and it was his first TD of the season.
His TD opportunity was aided by a key defensive holding against the Warriors on a third-and-11 at Marion's 13, when Morgan's pass skipped off his receiver's fingers in the end zone.
A timeout later, the Pounders had their first lead when Morgan had the good sense to turn upfield and find a block off right tackle.
Marion led 13-0 early on a pair of Blake Zeman TD runs, but Central cut the gap to 12-7 with 26 seconds left in the first half on Isyah Funk's 1-yard run.
Zeman, who finished the game with 229 yards, pushed the Warriors' advantage back up to 12 on a 4-yard run with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Central, though, having used a half-dozen running backs, had the fresher legs late. The Pounders got within five points on Funk's 7-yard run with 10:45 left.
Marion was its own worst enemy, fumbling four times and losing three, at least two of those inside Central's 30.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
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 ...
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(Coaches are invited to make nominations. Send an email to Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org by 6 p.m. each Saturday.)
(Coaches are asked to make nominations by 2 p.m. Sunday, submitting them to Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765).