It’s not over until it’s over

Published 5:00am Wednesday, October 31, 2012

With less than two minutes to play in the game, Macon East scored against Escambia Academy to put themselves in the lead 21-20. It had been a back-and-forth affair, but now it appeared to be over. Another tough loss for the Cougars who had already lost two close games that came down to the final play.

At the beginning of the season, the Cougars battled back against a tough Fort Dale Academy team to pull within one touchdown. The Cougars had the ball and a long pass completion from quarterback Michael Thompson to Winston Barron put the team close to the end zone. With the ball at the one-yard line, Thompson spiked the ball leaving the team with literally one second on the clock.

On the ensuing play, Thompson ran a quarterback sneak up the middle for what would have been the winning touchdown, but the officials called the play off because of an offside penalty. The Cougars were stopped just short on their second attempt to get the ball across the goal line and lost the game 21-14.

Later in the season, they battled back against Clarke Prep. Trailing 27-20, Thompson made a 26-yard pass for a touchdown to Barron to cut the lead to 27-26. Alas, the two-point conversion, a Barron run to the right, fell short of the goal line and failed. The Cougars were unable to recover an onside kick and lost the game 27-26.

Now, in the game against Macon East, it seemed a similar fate might await the Cougars.

But Tehron Stallworth wasn’t going to let that happen. He grabbed a 30-yard pass from Thompson and with tremendous concentration, held on to it for the win. Finally, the Cougars were able to taste a close victory, rather than the bitterness of a close defeat.

Previously in the game, it seemed forces beyond their control conspired against them. Just before halftime, the opposing Knights went with a running play with about five seconds remaining. Somehow, they managed to run the play and still have time left on the clock. It was a point that head coach Hugh Fountain tried to argue but unsuccessfully. On the following play, the Knights scored a touchdown to take a 14-12 lead to halftime.

Regardless of the obstacles, the Cougars never gave up, and that is one of the defining qualities of this team: they refuse to quit. The team often plays their best football in the second half.

The team stood at the 30-yard line with nine seconds in the game trailing 21-20. A pass to Barron failed, but the team refused to lose faith in each other even with only two seconds left on the clock. Thompson was under intense pressure and wasn’t far from a sack, but he quickly stepped outside the pocket, maintained his composure, and found Stallworth in the middle of the end zone.

As Fountain stated, “It was a very fitting end to our season.”

It seemed fitting, too, that Thompson, who has been such a big leader on offense, and Stallworth, both seniors, would be the scoring cogs for the team in their biggest win of the year.

Earlier in the game, Stallworth had two rushing touchdowns, one from one yard out and one from seven yards out. Thompson had a rushing touchdown of his own to help the Cougars regain the lead at 20-14.

The Cougars fielded a young team this season, but from the very first game against Fort Dale, they showed what would become their defining quality. The team has improved greatly since that game, which is why they were able to get a win this time at the last second. Regardless, all season they have been a team that simply won’t quit.

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