Calera comes up short in overtime thriller
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — It was a battle for every inch in the second round of the AHSAA Class 5A state playoffs on Nov. 14, as the Calera Eagles took on the host Greenville Tigers, with neither team backing down.
In the end, however, the Eagles simply came a few inches short.
The road to a state championship came to a close in frigid air over Tiger Stadium, as the Eagles fell 34-31 in double overtime.
The Eagles got on the board first when Trey Jones turned a pick into points, to set Calera up 7-0 after Austin Ford’s extra point.
The Calera defense then began to absolutely shut down the Greenville defense, forcing a three-and-out and subsequent punt that pinned the Eagles on their own four.
After a facemask on a Shakeith Tyes run, Ty Evans ran for back-to-back gains of one yard before finding Jones for a 13-yard gain. Greenville appeared to swing momentum back its way a few plays later on what appeared to be an interception, but was ruled incomplete after the defender dropped it.
Two plays later, Calera made the most of the opportunity as Evans hit Kyle Harrell in the endzone for a 9-yard score. Ford’s extra point was good, and the Eagles led 14-0 with 11:22 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles forced another three-and-out and took over on their own 39 yard line. Shakeith Tyes broke free for a 49-yard gain, and the Tigers were whistled for a facemask, bringing the Eagles all the way down to the 12-yard line. On the next play, Tyes broke through for the score, giving Calera the 21-0 lead.
The Tigers finally got on the board with a 34-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 21-7 with 5:32 left in the quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles stalled out at the 18, and a 35-yard field goal attempt by Ford with 2:23 left was no good. Once again the Tigers stalled, and the Eagles then blocked the punt to give them the ball on the Greenville 27. Trey Turnbow scampered for 24 yards to set up the Eagles on the Greenville 3, and Tyes looked to have scored on the next play, but a holding call backed Calera up to the 15. Ford’s attempt at a 32-yarder was no good, and the Eagles went into the half up 21-7.
The Tigers pounced after the half. With both teams’ defenses stiffening, Greenville notched a touchdown pass with 3:26 left in the third cut the lead to seven. Both teams traded possessions without points, and the Tigers came up short on a conversion attempt on the Calera 14.
The Eagles then took the ball and drove all the way to the Greenville 16 with less than three minutes to play. A reverse pass attempt on third down came up short, and Calera again tried for a field goal. This time, Ford’s attempt was blocked and recovered by the Tigers, who drove down the field and scored with 41.8 seconds left to tie the game. Calera then ran the clock out, and took defense first in overtime.
With the season hanging in the balance, the Eagles held Greenville to a third and 10 attempt, which was converted for a touchdown to put the Tigers ahead, 28-21.
The Eagles answered in just two plays, as Tyes once again shouldered the load for Calera, scoring on a 10-yard run to tie the game at 28-28 after Ford’s extra point.
In the second overtime period, Calera took over on offense to start. After Tyes’ runs of five and two yards, the Tigers jumped offsides to bring the Eagles down to the Greenville two.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
A fumble on the snap caused the ball to roll all the way back to the Eagles’ 30, where Tyes scooped it up and tried to make something happen, but was stopped by a host of Tigers before he could look for a blocker or set up to throw, and the Eagles found themselves at 30 yards from a touchdown. Unable to convert a first down, Ford took to the field to attempt a 47-yard field goal.
Despite the earlier misses, and with the season on the line, Ford kicked a line drive that was on point, finding its way through the bottom left corner of the uprights to extend the season and give the Eagles a 31-28 lead.
The Tigers were not to be denied, however, and on the ensuing possession scored a touchdown to end the Eagles title hopes earlier than hoped.
Stats were unavailable at press time for Calera, as the Eagles finished the season 10-1 for the second-straight year.
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