Admit it, if you were at the game Friday, you thought about leaving after the first quarter. It’s ok, I am sure you are not alone. Fortunately most everyone chose to stay, and by doing so witnessed the greatest comeback in the long and illustrious history of Swain High football, as the Devils overcame a 28-0 first quarter deficit to take a 37-35 win over West Montgomery.
Much like last week the Devils waited until the final ticks of the clock to secure the win. This time it was senior kicker Evan Sneed who knocked home the game winning field goal with 37 second left to go in the game. Sneed found sweet redemption after missing on an extra point try earlier in the game, by hitting on a 32 yard field goal to give Swain the lead 37-35.
Trailing 35-34 the Maroon Devils fourth quarter unfolded almost identical to last week’s win over Mitchell. The Devils went on an 8 play 55 yard drive only to be thwarted on fourth down, turning the ball back over to West Montgomery. Swain’s defense then stopped West on three downs, and forced a punt, which the Devils fielded on the West 43 yard line. Swain drove 33 yards on 7 plays in a little over two and a half minutes to move the ball into field goal range for Sneed.
West used the running talents of Jaquil Capel to help build a seemingly insurmountable lead in the first quarter. After holding the Devils on three downs and forcing a punt, Capel took the first play from scrimmage 82 yards to give West the lead at 7-0.
Following another stop, on only 3 downs, by the Warrior defense, West took over the ball. Three plays later it was Tevin McAuley who raced 57 yards untouched to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead.
Swain’s next drive produced even less positive results than their first two, as the Devils fumbled on their own 22 yard line. Two plays later Capel found A.J. Bowden in the corner of the endzone for the Warriors third touchdown of the quarter.
West then caught everyone off guard with a well timed on-side kick, which they recovered on the Swain 46 yard line. Two plays later it was Capel carrying it in from 23 yards out to give West a commanding 28-0 lead as the first quarter closed.
Heading into the game the Devils defense had given up a total of 23 points in the first quarter all season. Suddenly the Devils had been shredded for 28 points, and were clearly against the ropes.
Swain collected themselves and set about the task of winning the next play. And as the first quarter closed and the second began it found Swain moving the football. Ten plays later the Devils Colby Hyatt plunged in from 3 yards out to put Swain on the board, and cut the score to 28-7.
Only a few series later Corbin Panther came up with a big hit that caused a fumble which was recovered by Jacob Wildcatt, near midfield. Two plays later Colby Hyatt broke free and raced 36 yards for the Devils second score of the night to make the score 28-14.
West mounted a drive just before halftime that took them all the way down to the Swain 27 yard line. With under a minute to go before halftime West attempted a pass into the endzone which Matthew Maennle picked off and raced back to the Swain 30 yard line.
With just 28 seconds to play before haltime the Devils tried a hail mary of sorts. Hyatt hit Cody Rich in stride down the home sideline, Rich then outraced West to cover 70 yards and another Swain touchdown. With the extra point the Devils cut the score to 27-21 and went into halftime with all of the momentum firmly on their side.
Swain would tie the score on their first possession of the second half. Josue Otero broke free and raced 68 yards for the touchdown. An extra point later and the game was tied at 28.
The Maroon Devils would take the lead on their next series, which was set up by a Cody Rich fumble recovery. Swain drove down to the West 23 yard line before their drive stalled and they faced a fourth and four from the 23 yard line. Following a time out Colby Hyatt hit Matthew Maennle for a 23 yard touchdown. The extra point attempt failed leaving the score 34-28 in favor of Swain.
West’s Capel would cap a 11 play 63 yard drive with a two yard run to open the fourth quarter. The extra point gave West a 35-34 lead with 8:53 left to go in the game.
For the Devils the win punched their ticket for their 10th trip to a State Championship game. It marks the first time they have gone in the 1AA division. It is also their 14th win of the season, matching the mark for most wins in a season.