STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY ANDY COLLIGNON
Montgomery Bell Academy had practiced the play all year, but never used it in a game.
Until Friday night, that is.
The Big Red decided to use the designed pitch to Joshua Meriwether and it worked perfectly.
William Tyrone’s shovel pass to Meriwether on two-point conversion in overtime gave MBA a 25-24 win at Brentwood Academy.
“Tyrone [made] a great pitch,” Meriwether said. “I’m just glad I got to do it for these guys. I love this team so much.”
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound tight end got so excited after making the winning catch that he ran 100 yards along the sideline to the opposite end zone, celebrating with his teammates in front of the crowd.
MBA (8-1, 5-0) clinched the Division II-AAA East-Middle Region title with a win over the team that beat the Big Red in the last three state championship games.
“We’ve been waiting for this game for a long time, ever since we lost last year at state so this is a really big relief for us,” Meriwether said. “[BA is] still a great football team, though, we can give them that. In my book, since I’ve been here, this is [our] No. 1 [win], for sure.”
The game went into OT tied at 17. BA (7-2, 3-2) grabbed a 24-17 lead when Tomario Pleasant scored on a 10-yard run on the first play of the extra period.
Then the Eagles were penalized five yards for an illegal substitution on defense and MBA’s Jackson Hannah scored on a 5-yard run, narrowing the deficit to 24-23.
After a timeout, Big Red coach Marty Euverard went for two.
“They were on some momentum in the second half, on a roll,” Euverard said. “We felt like we had a good play and we felt like we’d go with it. It’s just something you try to scheme up to a particular defense and it ended up working.”
Tyrone rolled to his left and waited for the hole to open up before flipping the ball to Meriwether in the end zone.
“That was special,” Tyrone said. “Maybe we’ll see them again.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if the rivals meet again in the playoffs.
“Obviously, they’ve been saving that as a two-point play,” BA coach Cody White said.“We had a two-point play about three years ago that we had saved that won a state championship, but Marty and those guys did a great job executing it. Hats off to them. They went out and took a win rather than playing it safe. I thought it was a gutsy thing and a good job on his part and his staff’s part.”
The Eagles have lost two straight after winning their previous 24. McCallie upset BA two weeks ago.
Tyrone’s 12-yard touchdown run on a bootleg left tied the game at 17 with 9:17 remaining.
MBA took a 10-3 halftime lead thanks to a big play on special teams. After the teams traded second-quarter field goals, MBA’s Dominic Fisher blocked Patrick Doyle’s punt and Hedges Hayworth scooped up the ball and returned it 10 yards for a TD with 2:46 left in the first half.
QB Wade Williams gave the momentum back to the Eagles with TD passes on BA’s first two possessions of the second half.
His first one, a 58-yard pass down the middle to Aaron Lovins after he got behind the MBA secondary, tied the game at 10 just over a minute into the third quarter.
Then Preston Sagan’s diving catch in the middle of the end zone on a 10-yard strike from Williams gave BA a 17-10 lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter.
“It’s always hard to lose a close game like that,” Pleasant said. “That was a heartbreak game. It will just make us come out with a chip on our shoulder in the playoffs. We’re going to use that for fuel. You know, it’s hard to beat a team twice.”
Pleasant, who has offers from 5-0 North Carolina State and 4-2 Virginia, rushed for 94 yards and one TD on 20 carries. MBA’s Sam Dugan rushed for 89 yards on 16 carries.
“That’s what this rivalry is about,” White said. “They’re a quality team and we are as well. I saw a lot of competitiveness from both sides. Hopefully, at some point – you can’t look too far ahead – we come back and play another game with them. I think that’ll be a pretty good one.”
Special guest: Austin Peay quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall, a former BA football and basketball star, did the pre-game invocation. The Governors have a bye this weekend.