Indians make last stand to get elusive win

One big play can make all the difference in turning around a football season. At least, East Coweta certainly hopes so.

Defensive back Michael Singleton’s interception in the closing seconds preserved a 41-40 Indians’ win over Central-Phenix City, snapping East Coweta’s three-game losing streak during Friday’s “Pink Out” at Garland Shoemake Stadium.

A back-and-forth game through the final seconds saw East Coweta grab the final lead with 1:24 left in the game on a 19-yard run by Malik Robinson. After the PAT failed, the score was 41-40. However, with the way the second half of the game had been going, it appeared there may have been too much time left on the clock, and the Red Devils were poised to take advantage of the situation.

Central began its game-ending drive at its own 30 and wasted little time moving into field goal range. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Zion Webb connected with Khalid Berklin for a 35-yard gain to the East Coweta 35. The next pass from Webb found its target as well for 7 more yards to the 28. A couple of untimely penalties on the Indians, including a 10-yard pass interference flag, brought up a second and five at the 6-yard line. 

Webb connected on a short pass to Treveom Samuel for a first and goal at the 1 with 21 seconds left in the game. Once again, Webb dropped back to pass. This time his throw toward the right sideline was anticipated by Singleton for the interception, which cemented the victory for the home team and left his coach nearly speechless.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than that,” East Coweta head coach Clint Wade said of the pick. “That was unbelievable. Mike saw it. He broke on it and made a great play. It was unbelievable.”

The game actually had all the makings of a defensive battle in the first half. It was the Red Devils who scored first thanks to a big play on special teams. They took advantage of a bobbled opening kickoff by the Indians, recovering the ball at the EC 26. It took just three plays and a hands-to-the-face penalty by the Indians for Samuel to score on a 1-yard run to make it 7-0 right off the bat.

Neither team was able to mount much of an offense after that. The next three possessions were three-and-outs. It wasn’t until 3:42 left in the first that the Indians got their first big play. Markell Boston returned a Central punt 78 yards for a touchdown and a 7-7 tie.

The points started coming a little fast after that. Central struck on its next possession with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Webb to Berklin after just a five-play drive. The Indians answered as the first quarter ended with a 35-yard Cole Antley field goal. There was only one score in the second quarter. East Coweta sustained a 5-minute, 10-play drive that saw them establish their ground game behind Malik Robinson’s five carries for 19 yards. 

However, the scoring blow came through the air when Bryce Gemmel hooked up with Boston on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The score was 16-14 at the half.

The Red Devils managed a couple of big scoring plays in the second half. The first was a 74-yard catch and run from Webb to Berklin to take the lead in the third quarter. The other was a 36-yard reception by Samuel to make the score 28-22. Gemmel, who also had a big day running the ball, scored early in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard run, giving the Indians the lead again at 29-28.

In all, several players from both sides had big games. Boston had the kickoff return and a receiving touchdown for the Indians in the first half. Robinson caught a touchdown pass from Gemmel and ran for two other scores, including the final one of the game.

Samuel had three scores for the Red Devils. He had two short runs and a long, 36-yard reception for a score. He also carried the ball 16 times for 123 yards. Berklin added a pair of receiving touchdowns, while Weaver added his one touchdown catch.

“We’ve really been working these kids,” Wade said. “We had a good game planned. They did the things we asked them to. They need to enjoy this. We’ve been fighting a lot of close battles. I’m proud of them. They never gave up.”

•••

INDIANS 41, RED DEVILS 40

Central 14 0 14 12- 40

East Coweta 10 6 6 19- 41

1st Quarter

C —Traveon Samuel 1 run (Cameron Herring kick), 11:27

EC — Markell Boston 78 punt return (Cole Antley kick), 3:42

C — Zion Webb 18 pass to Khaled Berklin (Herring kick), 1:44

EC— Antley 35 field goal, :05.6

2nd Quarter

EC — Bryce Gemmel 19 pass to Boston (kick failed), 2:58

3rd Quarter

C — Webb 74 pass to Berklin (Herring kick), 10:12

EC — Gemmel 3 pass to Malik Robinson (run failed), 6:02

C — Webb 36 pass to Samuel (Herring kick), 2:56

4th Quarter

EC — Gemmel 14 run (Antley kick), 11:51

C — Samuel 4 run (pass failed), 8:53

EC — Robinson 3 run (pass failed), 5:02

C — Webb 25 pass to Quandarius Weaver (pass failed), 2:55

EC— Robinson 19 run (kick failed), 1:24



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