Owen Peacock and the McIntosh defense swarm to the ball. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)
The return of the county's oldest rivalry did not disappoint. After a two year hiatus, the McIntosh-Fayette County showdown was renewed with the Chiefs rallying for a 28-25 road victory.
The game was a thriller that saw big plays, key turnovers, and a huge momentum swings. Both teams saw a light of bright spots to build around in the season ahead. McIntosh got the victory, but the Tigers have much to be proud of. Just ask the opposition.
"I hope everyone got their moneys worth. What a great high school football game," said McIntosh coach Lee Belknap. "I would be remiss if I didn't tip my hat to the Fayette County Tigers. What a fine football team led by a fine man in coach Mike Davis. That bunch is going to do well. They play the game the way it is supposed to be played."
McIntosh played a tremendous game of their own. The Chiefs were able shake off some early mistakes and crawl back from a double-digit second half deficit. Big wins are something the program is getting used to. Any thoughts that the team might slip backwards after last year's record setting season and loss of 30 plus seniors seem unfounded after such a gutsy effort.
"This is a young football team and they took another step towards maturing tonight," Belknap said. "We don't expect them to play perfect, but we expect a perfect effort. We saw that when we needed it most tonight."
Another 1-0 start has the Chiefs right where they want to be. They're on the road to make 2014 just as special as last year.
"The torch has been passed to them. Tradition does not graduate," Belknap adds.
McIntosh started off the game as hot as possible. The Chiefs shook off a 2nd and 27 situation as Duke Kinamon hit Josh Ange on a skinny post, with Ange racing through the defense for a 71 yard touchdown. Spencer Barker added the extra point for a quick 7-0 lead.
Both teams would get bogged down early, not uncommon for an opening game. Four series in the first quarter ended with turnovers (Derek Bertke and Jacob Bolen recovering fumbles for McIntosh, Nick Egona and JeTorren "Jett Snellings" intercepting passes for Fayette), with another squashed by a sack for -14 yards on third down (McIntosh's Owen Peacock).
Fayette made sure to finish the first quarter on a high note. On the frame's final play and the first of the series, Daveion Nash hit Desmond Fletcher on a quick pass in the slot. Fletcher snared the high pass and juked the safety, racing 84 yards for a touchdown. The extra point try would fail, narrowing the gap to 7-6.
McIntosh answered back on the first series of the second quarter, driving 67 yards. Kinamon moved the chains with his feet and his arm before hitting paydirt. On third 3rd and 10 from eleven yards out, Kinamon perfectly placed a pass to Ange just over the corner that he hauled in and drug his feet inbounds for the score and a 14-6 lead.
Fayette responded immediately as Jett Snellings returned the ensuing kickoff for an 87 yard touchdown return. Zach Gongola added the PAT to make it 14-13.
The Tigers took their first lead of the game late in the half. Robert Easterwood did much of the legwork, catching a screen in the backfield near the right sideline, then rolling back around the left end and slicing back through the defense for a spectacular 45 yard catch and run. Montrell Kelley capped off the drive with a 15 yard burst up the middle. The two point conversion attempt would fail for a 19-14 lead.
Jett Snellings made his presence felt again in the second half, snaring a leaping interception to squash McIntosh's first series of the second half. Unfortunately for the Tigers, he would leave the game on the next drive with an injury.
Fayette kept up the pressure after the Snellings pick. Kelley took a sweep around the left end on the first play for 45 yards. Kelley then kept the drive going, converting a third down with a 22 yard run. Nash capped it off with a bootleg around the right side for an 18 yard touchdown. Fayette's extra point was blocked, making it a 25-14 game midway through the third.
McIntosh and their QB, Duke Kinamon were unfazed as he shook off an up-and-down first half to lead the Chiefs to 14 late points.
"Nothing seems to shake him," Belknap praised. "When the game is on the line, we're going to put the ball in his hands and he's going to come through for us."
Kinamon connected with Chandler Birrell for a 51 yard pass down to the three yard line. Ange punched it in from there to cut the deficit to 25-21.
The Chief defense stepped up big time on the next drive. After allowing a 30 yard pass from Nash to Fletcher, the Chiefs bowed up with Patrick Anderson, Doug Wood, and Bertke teaming up for a 15 yard loss. A high snap sent the Tigers reeling as Patrick Trianna tallied a sack to kill the drive.
Belknap was quick to praise the defense's ability to pressure the quarterback, especially along the line.
"Coach James Fleckenstein really leads that defensive line," he said. "They know how to play the game."
Kinamon and Ange would connect several times to move the Chiefs down the field, and Nash Gosser would add a 19 yard reception. Kinamon then followed up with the play of the night. Dropping back to pass, a Tiger broke through and had him in their grasp. Duke somehow slipped out of the sack, regained his footing, and calmly found Ange open in the end zone for a 21 yard touchdown with seven minutes to play. Ange's fourth score of the night would be the deciding blow in McIntosh's 28-25 victory.
Kinamon finished the night completing 20 of 29 passes for 244 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Ange caught 13 passes for 160 yards and three scores, and added one more touchdown on the ground.
Fayette got a number of standout efforts in defeat. Montrell Kelley rushed for 125 yards and a score on 12 carries. Daveion Nash completed five of nine passes for 172 yards and one score. Desmond Fletcher hauled in three catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, they were led by Sean Harper with 11 tackles and a sack, Jett Snellings with two interceptions, and Sean Ancrum with 13 tackles.
The Chiefs will look to make it 2-0 this week when they host Luella. Fayette County will aim to rebound on the road this week against Drew on Thursday.