Bend don’t break: Crucial stops help Helena topple Central 20-18

Published 11:03 pm Friday, October 23, 2015

Helena quarterback Riley Davis leaps into the end zone on fourth and goal to give the Huskies a 20-12 lead late in the fourth quarter. (For the Reporter/Brian Vansant)

Helena quarterback Riley Davis leaps into the end zone on fourth and goal to give the Huskies a 20-12 lead late in the fourth quarter. (For the Reporter/Brian Vansant)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

TUSCALOOSA–The Helena Huskies had all they could handle from their last area opponent, the Central Tuscaloosa Falcons, as some key defensive stops helped preserve a 20-18 Helena victory.

Helena got on the board first after a made 22 yard field goal by Jeremy Hughes to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead and those three points would make a big difference as Helena head coach Watt Parker was pleased at Hughes play all night.

“Jeremy Hughes played his absolute greatest game ever as a kicker and I’m just so proud of him and his effort with the big field goals,” said Parker. “He made two touchdown-saving tackles on kickoff return when we had some blown coverage’s and he played the game of his life.”

On the flipside, the Falcons had trouble with special teams all night, as the Falcons missed an extra point and were 0-2 on two point conversions.

Emotions ran high at the end of the first half as Helena drove the ball inside the Central 10 yard line down 6-3 and looking to score.

On third and goal from the five-yard line, the Falcons defense stopped Helena but after the play a Helena offensive lineman was shoved into Huskies quarterback Riley Davis’ knee. Davis was down for a few minutes, but thankfully walked off under his own power and would return to the game. Helena received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty that had many of the away fans upset.

Facing a fourth and goal from the 19-yard line, Hughes faced a 36-yard field goal attempt where he was successful.

However, after the play Central Tuscaloosa was flagged for roughing the kicker that once again gave Helena a first and goal.

Helena couldn’t punch it in the end zone, but Hughes would make another field goal to tie the game 6-6 going into halftime, this time a 32-yard field goal.

Parker admitted his team was a little shell-shocked in the first half and credited the toughness Central.

“Central has gotten better the entire year and we’ve watched them on film,” said Parker. “We knew their record was not indicative of how good a football team they are. We knew it was going to be an absolute war and it was.”

The Helena offense would get going in the third quarter as Huskies wide receiver Phildon Dublin caught a swing pass and then sprinted 28 yards for a touchdown to give Helena a 13-6 lead near the end of the third quarter.

Davis would shake off his injury and led the Huskies down the field where he would leap into the end zone on fourth and goal from the one yard line to put Helena up 20-12.

The Falcons would not give up and kept fighting as they faced a fourth and five with 1:08 left in the game down 20-12. Central would catch a long touchdown pass to pull within 20-18 where they faced a crucial two-point conversion.

The Falcons would try a toss sweep to Central running back Eldric Jones who was brought down by a swarm of Huskies defenders to preserve the 20-18 lead.

The Falcons onside kick attempt was unsuccessful and Helena would run out the clock to grab another area victory and improve their overall record to 7-2 with a 6-1 record in the region.

Helena will take on Pleasant Grove in the final regular season game on Friday, Oct. 30 before heading into the playoffs with home field advantage.