Chris Feemster's first two interceptions of 2013 had gone for touchdowns. His third did not, but the Signal Mountain cornerback didn't care. This one came in a District 7-AA showdown's waning seconds Friday night and secured a 20-13 victory over Notre Dame.
"To get one like that to win the game, it's pretty amazing," said the senior who has been better known as one of the area's better baseball catchers. "The defense came up big against the run, and we didn't let the big plays happen."
Neither the host Eagles nor Notre Dame let the big plays happen other than Kareem Orr returning the opening kickoff 99 yards to give the Irish a very early lead. But special-teams play let them down later when they fumbled a punt deep in Notre Dame territory and then booted a 14-yard punt and had a punt deflected.
"We muffed a punt and they got a field goal. Then we had the punt that gave them amazing field position and then the punt that was deflected," Irish coach Charles Fant said. "It's rare for our special teams to let us down."
It's just as rare for both teams to go without a 100-yard rusher, but the Eagles held Auston Banks to 80 yards and the Irish defense limited standout Signal fullback James McClellan to 55.
"The defense played great," Signal coach Bill Price said. "Other than the kickoff return we gave up six points. And we put the defense in some terrible situations. We did as a team what we had to in order to win, but Notre Dame has nothing to be ashamed of. They're a good football team."
Price's defense was keyed by tackle Jacob Wright, who registered four tackles for loss and batted away an Alex Darras pass.
"I saw them last week and it looked like he hurt his knee. He shows up tonight with a knee brace, and he sure didn't look like he was hurt. He was the difference in the ballgame," Fant said of the Signal senior.
Notre Dame went up 10-0 early and led 10-3 at halftime. Signal cut it to 10-6 on the second Houston McLain field goal but didn't take the lead (13-10) until McClellan scored from a yard out with 2:24 left. That TD opportunity came after Ryan Claxton intercepted Darras and returned the ball 32 yards to the Irish 13. McClellan scored on another 1-yard run to make it 20-10, and the Irish's final points came on a 37-yard Darras field goal.
The win came at a price for Signal, which lost 6-foot-5, 360-pound defensive tackle Marcus Hardy. He is likely done for the season after being diagnosed on the sideline with a broken collarbone.
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.