With one month and four games to go to the finish line, it looks like McGavock has gained firm control of the Region 6-6A race in football.
The Raiders proved quite resilient in an exciting 35-28 overtime victory at Overton last Friday. They trailed 14-6, 21-14 and 28-21 but rallied each time. The victory snapped a two-year losing streak to the Bobcats.
From the opening kickoff, when an 80-yard return by Deantae Battle to the Overton 2-yard line, until the final play in overtime, a great stop by defensive back Shay Haynes, McGavock dodged several bullets.
At 5-1, the Raiders are for real.
“This was big,” first-year coach Jay Gore, whose team has won five straight since an opening setback at Mt. Juliet, said. “We held on and always answered the bell when we needed to.”
It was a difficult week for Gore, whose good friend John Coles, a high school referee, died. Gore attended the funeral last Wednesday and headed into the Friday encounter with heavy heart.
“We grew up together, went to the same schools together grades 7-12, and graduated in the same class from Lipscomb College together,” he said. “He refereed a lot of games I coached in.”
McGavock’s players seemed to play with an extra edge, perhaps due to Gore’s loss.
In the overtime, defensive tackle Devin Taylor made two straight stops, Anthony Knight tipped a pass in the end zone away. Then Haynes made his big play.
“We persevered in overtime,” Taylor said. “We gave it all we had, and I think we wanted it more. The seniors are all giving everything they have.”
As a result, with a favorable remaining schedule, McGavock looks playoff-bound. In their three remaining region games, the Raiders host Glencliff Friday, then visit Antioch and Hunters Lane. All three have losing records, a combined 4-15.
Biggest play of all
On fourth-and-goal from the 9, it was Haynes who made the biggest play in a game filled with big plays.
After McGavock went ahead 35-28 on Mike Green’s two-yard touchdown pass from Kody McKinley, Overton made one yard on three plays, then took two timeouts.
Quarterback Ryan Roberson rolled out, looking for a receiver in the end zone. Not finding one, he took off around right end for the goal line. As he dove for the flag, he was belted to the ground by Haynes, one yard short.
“The defensive backs were responsible for the receivers, when the quarterback started out on the bootleg, I had to contain,” Haynes said. “I just did my job.
“Not many people thought we could come over here and get a win, but we believed in ourselves.”
McKinley threw for one touchdown, ran for another and had 164 passing yards in one of his best performances. In six games he has passed for1,022 yards and 15 touchdowns.
“The O-line gave me great blocking, an we came over here and got a big win,” McKinley said. “It was a tough week for coach Gore, losing his good friend.”
As for Battle, not only did his long kickoff return set up Karl Moody’s two-yard touchdown run one minute into the game, he also returned an interception 50 yards in the third quarter, which set up McKinley’s touchdown.
“I just try to make plays,” Battle said. “We practice hard Monday to Fridays, and we came over here and got a great win. We showed a lot guts.”
Besides Tez Humphreys who scored two touchdownss for Overton, Chris Harrison had a big game, with a 36-yard touchdown run and an interception.
“We were pretty much outmanned in the box,’’ Gore said. “We felt we could score, but I’m not sure we could ever stop them (Overton).’’
• DII race wide open: The DII-AA race is wide-open going into the final month, with four teams that look like first-place contenders.
They include Baylor (4-0 in region), Brentwood Academy (3-1), MBA (3-1) and Ensworth (2-1).
Right on the edge are Father Ryan (1-2) and BGA (1-3), which lost a heartbreaking 38-35 decision to MBA on a late field goal Friday after twice leading by two touchdowns.
Two of the more remarkable players DII are: Ensworth’s all-purpose star Corn Elder, who scored two touchdowns and also intercepted two passes (one on the game’s final play) in the Tigers’ 21-14 win at BA, and BGA quarterback C.J. Beathard who had a phenomenal 329-yard, three-touchdown game against MBA. Beathard’s performance gave him 1,467 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season.