Ashton Jackson goes up high to try and reel in a deep pass.
(Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
At times this year it has seemed like the Fayette County Tigers are just inches from turning the corner. Unfortunately in their season finale, they were just inches short again, losing a nailbiter 49-46 to the Alexander Cougars.
This one was full of fireworks for both sides. When neither team could seem to hold the other's offense in check, in the end it was a defensive play by Alexander that proved to be the backbreaker. Fayette County was continuing to push back into contention, trailing by ten points, but moving the ball well. As the Tigers neared midfield, the Cougars made their move. Junior defensive back Brian Dansereau stepped in front of the tight end to intercept the pass and raced 65 yards for a touchdown. Dansereau's pick six pushed the Cougars ahead 49-32, giving them just enough points to win.
The Tigers never gave in, fighting until the last second. Bouncing right back from the turnover the team marched down the field to paydirt. Quarterback Jason Williams had an electric connection with wide receiver Ashton Jackson working, finding him time and again. On fourth and seven deep in Cougar territory Williams found Jackson in the middle of the field who hauled it in and did the rest for a 22 yard touchdown to narrow the deficit to 10 points.
The Tiger defense quickly got the ball back and the Williams-Jackson connection was ready to roll. On the very next snap the pair hooked up for a 63 yard catch and run. Williams would finish the drive by punching it in from three yards out to trim the margin to three points.
Jason Williams would have his finest game of the season completing 11 passes for 217 and a touchdown while adding another score on the ground. Ashton Jackson pulled in five passes for 131 yards and a touchdown. Antonio Messick grabbed four for 63.
The Tiger defense would hold to try and get their offense the ball back, but a roughing the punter call would extend the drive and run out the clock.
"I liked the way the game ended in that we fought till the end and played hard," said Fayette head coach Mike Davis.
The team could have folded up when Alexander racked up the first half points. Instead, they put their nose to the grindstone and blew up the scoreboard as well. Their special teams were huge all night with two big returns providing a spark. Braylyn Cook hauled in one kickoff with heels right at the goal line and took it the opposite way for a touchdown. Antonio Messick matched him with a 91 yard touchdown return of his own.
Kicker Eric Garduno was solid as well, acing the extra points as the team tried to keep pace and adding a 33 yard field.
"Eric has done a great job this year. He's one of our hardest workers," praised Davis. "He's been on point for us. I appreciate him."
The Tiger running game was dominant again, piling up 164 yards on the ground. Vincent Bey led the way with 105 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. Keenan Morris added 36 yards and a score on nine carries.
The season may not be what the team was hoping for record wise, but the Tigers are improving. "We have to be patient with things," said Davis. "To start a program it takes baby steps."
If the Tigers keep taking steps forward, next year those inches will swing in their favor.