Cornerstone’s trickery foils Coosa comeback

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cornerstone Christian School used some fourth-quarter trickery to seal the win Friday against rival Coosa Valley Academy, 30-26.

The Chargers (2-1, 2-0) dominated the first half and lead by two touchdowns at the break, 22-7.

But the Rebels (1-2, 1-1) didn’t give up, bouncing back in front of the home crowd at Don Greene Stadium. Behind a strong passing game, Coosa Valley closed the gap to just two points, 22-20.

The Rebels looked poised for the comeback after stopping the Chargers inside their own territory.

All the Rebels needed to do was recover the punt, and then drive down the field to win.

The only problem was the Chargers didn’t punt.

Instead, Cory Woodall scooped up the ball on the fake, converting the risky fourth down.

Cornerstone’s smoke-and-mirrors show was just beginning.

Just a few snaps later, J.V. McKinney pulled up on a reverse to find quarterback Lance Benton wide-open for a 40-yard touchdown reception.

The two-point conversion was good, and the Chargers never looked back with 7:59 in the fourth.

“We played hard and laid it out there,” said McKinney. “I can’t believe he [Benton] was open like that.”

McKinney redeemed himself after fumbling the ball during the opening kickoff, which Ricky Ellison recovered to put the Rebels on the scoreboard first, 6-0.

Cornerstone scored its first points later in the opening quarter when Benton tucked the ball and ran in from 25 yards out.

Woodall cashed in next, scoring off a 56-yard dash with 8:30 to go in the first quarter.

The Chargers had the only points of the second quarter via a 17-yard pass from Benton to McKinney.

Coosa controlled the game’s momentum in the second half. The Rebels outscored Cornerstone 19-8 after intermission, but still fell short.

“We didn’t play well in the first half. We just didn’t execute like we should,” said Rebel head coach Steven Mackin. “We’ve just got to get more disciplined … and we are going to.”

Coosa scored in the third quarter after Whit Lovelady threw a 30-yard bullet to J.B. Ripley. The touchdown tightened things up, 22-12.

The teams then spent time sharing turnovers. McKinney fumbled on his own 25-yard line, bringing the Rebel bench to life. However, Lovelady threw a pick the very next play to Benton, who was in at defensive back.

Coosa’s defense held though, forcing Cornerstone to punt from the 13-yard line. The snap was too high, allowing the Rebels to take over on downs inside the red zone.

A few plays later, quarterback Phillip Neal snuck in from the 1-yard line. Neal came in for the drive after Lovelady was sidelined with leg cramps. The gap closed even more with a successful PAT, 22-20.

Then things got interesting. The next Charger drive featured the fake punt and 40-yard halfback pass.

The Rebels still had some fight though.

Brandon Batchelor ran a kickoff back 70 yards to cap the scoring, 30-26.

“We did really good in the second half. There are things we can still work on,” said Lovelady. “We just come back and work hard and get ready for next week.”

Coosa did get the pigskin back one last time, but turned the ball over after a quarterback sack on fourth-and-10 with less than two minutes to go.

Cornerstone head coach Tim Smith said the game was one of the toughest he’s ever been a part of.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a more intense game,” said Smith.

Trey Benson lead the Chargers with eight tackles.

However, Cornerstone might have taken the night’s biggest hit.

Woodall injured his knee in the fourth quarter and left the game winching in pain.

Smith said the star running back would have x-rays over the weekend. Before Friday, Woodall led his team in rushing with 216 yards and one touchdown.

“That’s a huge blow for this team if he isn’t healthy,” Smith said.

Cornerstone travels to Lyman Ward next week, while Coosa plays at Dixie. Both games are area match-ups.