Coosa beats Shades Mountain for first win


Coosa Christian’s Seth Williamson, right, blocks Shades Mountain’s Daniel Lindsey as the Conquerors’ Ben Mills picks up yardage during Friday’s Class 1A, Region 7 game in Gadsden. (Photo by Dave Hyatt | Gadsden Times)


 

Coosa Christian coach Scott Clifton hugged several of his players and coaches, and even wiped away a tear.

“We came out here and played for our seniors,” said Clifton, his voice trembling a bit as ice water dripped off his clothes from a celebratory dousing.

The thing is, his seniors — and every other player — also were playing for him.

Clifton finally picked up his first win as a head coach Friday night, as the Conquerors knocked off the Shades Mountain Christian Eagles 26-24.

It was a wildly entertaining game, which just happened to be homecoming for Coosa Christian (1-6). It also was a character-building game for the Conquerors, as they had to rally in the fourth quarter and made several critical plays en route to the win.

Trailing 24-17 with 8:18 remaining in the game, Coosa had a chance to tie it. But for the second straight possession, it was stopped inside the 5-yard line. No matter, as the defense came through and stopped Shades Mountain (1-5) quarterback Michael Rogers for a safety.

“Coach (Justin) Norton called a terrific play when they were on the 1-yard line,” Clifton said of his defensive coordinator. “He called for everybody to blitz, and we got that safety. It changed the game.”

Coosa then took over at the Eagles’ 40-yard line, only to eventually face fourth-and-3 from the 20. Quarterback Johnny Grizzard made a play, running eight yards for a for a first down.

Once again, Coosa got down to the 2-yard line. And after being turned away the previous two chances inside the 5, Ben Mills bulled his way into the end zone for what proved to be the game-winning score.

“We had all the confidence in the world,” Clifton said. “You can see it in the kids’ eyes, you can see their enthusiasm.”

 

The Coosa defense had to make one last stand against the Eagles, and when a fourth-down pass from Rogers went off the fingertips of William Parker, the Conquerors’ celebration was on.

“I’m just glad we finally won,” said Mills, who rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s been pretty frustrating.”

Mills is Clifton’s top athlete on both offense and defense.

“He’s a tremendous athlete,” Clifton said. “He can do it all. He can run, he can catch (and) Ben is all over the field on defense. We’re just trying to get some players around him to take some of the pressure off of him.”

Grizzard is one of those athletes, and early one showed just how good he can be at something other than signal caller

Shades Mountain took the opening kickoff and the lead just a few minutes into the game. Rogers, who completed 5 of 11 passes for 146 yards, found Will Rowell behind the Conqueror defense for a 55-yard score.

The lead didn’t last long, as Grizzard returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.

After the Conquerors defense forced the Eagles to punt, they went on an 84-yard drive, capped by Mills’ 8-yard run. Mills had the highlight run of the night earlier in the drive, as he escaped the grasp of a swarm of Eagles, made several more miss and raced for a 60-yard gain.

Shades Mountain scored the next two touchdowns, with Rogers going in for a 1-yard score before finding Parker with a 41-yard scoring strike.

Coosa then took over with a little more than two minute remaining until halftime. It converted a fourth down near midfield and reached inside the 10 with just 1 second on the clock. David Kim then went onto the field and calmly booted a 24-yard field goal to make the halftime score 21-17.

Coosa looked to take the lead on its first drive of the second half, getting a first down at the 1-yard line. The Conquerors were then stuffed on four straight plays.

Shades Mountain took over and marched all the way inside Coosa’s 5, but the Conquerors’ defense stepped up, giving up two short runs before forcing an intentional grounding to bring up fourth down. Cody Pausic’s chip-shot field goal sailed through with just a few ticks left in the third, but it turned out to be a big stop for Coosa and gave the team a little momentum heading into the fourth.