McIntosh shocks Sandy Creek in OT

Fri, 08/31/2007 - 9:59pm
By: Kevin Wandra
Sometimes you just have to believe.

Nobody thought the McIntosh Chiefs, a team that didn’t win a single game last season, had much of a chance Friday against perennial playoff contender Sandy Creek, which crushed McIntosh 28-0 last season.

Well, one group of people actually did believe the Chiefs could win—the Chiefs themselves.

The Chiefs played arguably their best game in years to pull out a stunning 16-10 overtime victory over the Patriots in the teams’ season opener in Peachtree City.

The victory came as no surprise to McIntosh second-year coach Dwight Jones and the rest of his coaching staff.

“We told [the kids] that we believe we could win; we really did,” Jones said. “I think last year, we told our kids maybe none of us really believed we could win. I think today we really believed we could beat them.”

Jones added: “This is one of the best wins I’ve had. For these kids, it’s the biggest win in the world right now.”

Creek coach Chip Walker said his team was simply outplayed by the Chiefs.

“McIntosh played harder and wanted the game more than we did,” Walker said. “Going in, did we think we were going to lose? No. We don’t really plan on losing to anybody. We just didn’t execute some things.”

The Patriots had more total yards (183 to 84), rushing yards (112 to 66), passing yards (71 to 18) and first downs (11 to 5) than McIntosh, but the Chiefs beat Creek where it counts most—total points scored.

“We played well in only one phase of the game—defense,” Walker said.

The teams were deadlocked at 10 as regulation expired, sending the game into overtime.

Three plays into the opening possession of overtime, McIntosh quarterback Jeff Prather threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Nick Nelson in the middle of the end zone for the go-ahead score.

“I saw the ball, [Prather] threw it to me, and all I could do was catch it,” Nelson said. “This is my senior year. To catch a touchdown pass in overtime to win the game, that’s the biggest thing ever.”

Matt Mateos’ point-after attempt fell just short of the crossbar, but McIntosh still led 16-10.

Creek’s first and only overtime possession began with 2- and 4-yard runs by Josh Williams.

McIntosh’s defense then stepped up with two of its biggest stops of the game.

Linebacker Andrew Graham tackled Williams for a 2-yard loss on third-and-3 from the McIntosh 9, and defensive back Bradley Larson ended the game by batting down Rio Johnson’s pass intended for Marc Ellis in front of the end zone on fourth down.

McIntosh’s crowd then stormed the rain-soaked field to celebrate one of the Chiefs’ biggest wins in school history.

Hughston Taylor gave McIntosh an immediate boost to start the game, returning the game-opening kickoff 90 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown.

“I pretty much felt like I was dreaming,” Taylor said of his kickoff return for a touchdown. “I didn’t know I was there. I saw that hole open and just took it.”

McIntosh’s defense, which defensive coordinator Paul Carroll has nicknamed “The Black Swarm,” carried the team the rest of the way, forcing three turnovers—two fumbles, one interception—and holding Creek’s offense to under 200 total yards (183).

“Everybody played their guts out, especially our kids on defense,” Jones said. “They played as hard as they could possibly play.”

The first turnover McIntosh forced came late in the first half, when Larson rocked Creek wide receiver Jarrett Davis with a hard hit that jarred the ball loose. McIntosh defensive lineman Matt Miller pounced on the ball at the Creek 15-yard line.

The turnover led to a 32-yard field goal by Mateos.

Mateos looked to add to McIntosh’s lead with 37.5 second remaining in the half, but Creek safety Russell Bonner blocked Mateos’ low 34-yard field-goal attempt.

Late in the third quarter, Creek had a prime opportunity to score, as Williams broke loose for a 37-yard run to the 1-yard line. But his run was negated by a questionable block-in-the-back penalty.

The penalty proved costly, as McIntosh safety Ben Sims jumped in front of a Johnson pass over the middle to intercept it and return it 25 yards to the McIntosh 37 two plays later.

Creek got the ball back on the next play, with Bonner forcing a fumble that linebacker Matt Solomon recovered at the McIntosh 35.

Solomon had a huge game for Creek, recording a team-high 12 tackles.

The Patriots were back in McIntosh territory, but the Chiefs’ Black Swarm defense thwarted Creek once again; on fourth-and-9 from the McIntosh 23, Graham and defensive lineman Nick Popeil pressured Johnson in the pocket, forcing him to throw an incompletion and turn the ball over on downs.

It was a rough night for Johnson, a first-year starter. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 71 yards, with one interception.

Williams, who led all rushers with 105 yards on 30 carries, finally broke McIntosh’s shutout with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter, capping a 10-play, 42-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.

Davis kept Creek’s drive alive on the previous play, diving to snag a Johnson pass and convert a fourth-and-6.

After the teams traded turnovers on fumbles, Johnson came within inches of hooking up with Ellis on a 36-yard pass in the end zone on Creek’s drive following defensive tackle James Hervey’s fumble recovery, but the ball sailed just past the outstretched arms of Ellis.

Johnson went back to Ellis two plays later, hitting Ellis with a 25-yard pass to convert a third-and-10.

A 6-yard run by Williams made it second-and-goal from the McIntosh 5 and put Creek in position to pull ahead of McIntosh.

But Nelson led a host of McIntosh defensive players to stuff Williams at the line of scrimmage on second down, and Popeil and Miller combined to sack Johnson for a 6-yard loss on third down.

Creek settled for a game-tying 27-yard field goal by Zack Lopez with 43.5 seconds remaining.

McIntosh played for overtime on its next series, with Prather taking a knee to run out the clock in regulation, which elicited a chorus of boos from the Creek crowd.

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BPR's picture
Submitted by BPR on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 6:53am.

This is my son's first year at Sandy Creek, he plays in the band, which are the best,they did a great job!!!! I was so proud of these football guys that were not ashamed to bow their heads and pray to God before the football game. Win or loose God gets the glory! These are guys that are not ever going to forget they did this. Thank you Sandy Creek Staff for doing this. To me this was the best part of the football game. I'm proud to say pledge to our flag, but nothing could compare to still praying to God. You Sandy Creek guys are the BEST! It's not always winning that shows who you are. I did have a problem hearing the game, could Mcintosh install some speakers on the other side- I could not hear anything that was being said. I am proud my son goes to a school that will allow prayer- in this kind of setting it says alot about the school. They may have lost, but guys you are the best- you were not ashamed to pray to our God! There are alot more games to go and I know these guys will be a team and I want them to know how PROUD I am of all of them- you are the best!!!!!!!!!!!! The band thanks for being your best and showing your support- you guys are the best also!!!!! Proud parent of Sandy Creek High School

Submitted by 1bighammer on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 10:12am.

bpr....for those of us that have been a part of the Sandy Creek family for many years,we know how important our pre-game prayer is. You might be surprised to find out that we have a Team Chaplain that travels with the team. While the coaching staff at SCHS is there to have a winning team, they also believe they have a responsibility to help produce winning individuals. They understand that most of these young men will probably never play football in college or in the pros, so they use the football experience to help prepare these young men for life also.

This is one of the many things we at SCHS have to be proud of. Now that you are a part of the family, you will discover many more!

Football Face's picture
Submitted by Football Face on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 1:40pm.

I've seen it at the end of most games - Whitewater does it for sure. And listening to a prayer, even if you don't believe, won't kill you.

secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 1:09pm.

Is it okay to play football for Sandy Creek and not be a Christian? Can non-Christian players just draw in the dirt and whittle away the time while the prayer session runs?

Submitted by 1bighammer on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 1:41pm.

secret squirrel... Why do you view the act of conducting a prayer as an exclusionary practice? How many of those players are non Christian? 1 or 2? Why should the religious beliefs of 1 or 2 trump the beliefs of the rest of the team? Those non-christian players can use the time to pray to their own god if they choose to. The prayer has never been compulsory, no player has been forced to pray against their will. Just as they are not forced to pray, the rest of the team shouldn't be forced NOT to pray if they choose to.
One final question...If a player / child (remember we are dealing with children here)being an affected member of the team, isn't bothered by this, then why are you?

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Sat, 09/01/2007 - 7:07am.

You're truly a booster!!!!

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

rzz's picture
Submitted by rzz on Fri, 08/31/2007 - 10:45pm.

Way to go McIntosh! Looked pretty good tonight. Best of luck with the rest of the season.

Submitted by 1bighammer on Tue, 09/04/2007 - 1:47pm.

you did what you had to do. I was impressed with the improvement over last year. I don't think this will be the only game you guys win this year.

Also, how long has it been since McIntosh and Fayette County were the only two county teams to win? Longer than I can remember...

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