Beauregard uses second half surge to end Calera’s season

Published 11:37 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

OPELIKA–Execution is the term Calera head football coach Andrew Zow has preached all season and for one half in a second round playoff game against the Beauregard Hornets, the Calera Eagles were executing at a high level and seeking to pull off the upset on the road.

Unfortunately, the second half was a different story and Calera’s miscues on both sides of the football ultimately led to a 30-17 loss to the Hornets on Friday, Nov. 17, as the Eagles season came to an end.

Calera knew Beauregard would be a tough second round matchup in the 5A state playoffs but the Eagles came out with a purpose.

Calera got on the scoreboard first after quarterback Cornelius Brown scrambled from the Hornets 16-yard line and before breaking the plane of the goal line, fumbled the ball but the Eagles were able to recover in the end zone for the touchdown to go up 7-0.

Beauregard would respond, however, as quarterback Jaichis Holmes found wide receiver Isaiah McKissic in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 early in the second quarter.

The Calera defense had no answer for McKissic, as he would go on to torch the Eagles secondary for 7 receptions for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game.

After making a field goal to take the lead 10-7, Calera trailed for the first time in the game near the end of the first half but a swing in momentum came on special teams.

With 1:15 to go in the first half, Calera recovered a botched snap by Beauregard on a punt which set up the Eagles deep in Hornets territory.

Calera would take advantage as Brown hit wide receiver Chandler Smith on a 12-yard slant for a touchdown to put the Eagles up 14-10 at halftime to regain the momentum.

The momentum would not carry over to the second half for Calera as Holmes found McKissic again for a 62-yard touchdown to put Beauregard back up 17-14 midway through the third quarter.

A huge play in the second half came late in the third quarter as Beauregard faced a fourth-and-13 deep in Calera territory. The Hornets elected to go for it and after rolling out to his right, Holmes threw up a jump ball to McKissic who somehow came down with the ball in the end zone to make it 23-14 after a missed extra point.

The Hornets would outscore the Eagles 20-3 in the final two quarters but even with the missed opportunities, Calera still had one last chance with a few minutes remaining trailing 23-17.

After converting one first down, Brown attempted to force a pass but it was intercepted by Beauregard’s Jacob Callaway with 1:39 to go in the game.

The Hornets put the game away for good a few plays later when Jadarius Preston scored from 8-yards out to give Beauregard the 30-17 win.

After finishing with just 76 yards passing in the first half, Holmes would rebound to finish the game 14-for-24 for 214 yards passing and 4 touchdowns.

“For us we didn’t play the way we needed to in the second half,” Zow said after the game. “We came out and played hard and gave them problems but we just didn’t execute. Execution is what I tell them every day and then we just didn’t do that. We had guys that just didn’t play to their expectations and didn’t play to the level and the standard that we expect. Offensively, we just couldn’t flip the field and when we did have a drive it was a long drive that took time off the clock and it just hurt us. Defensively, we had balls in the air that we just didn’t make plays on. What we take away from this is that if you’re going to beat the defending champion, you’ve got to play like the champion the whole time and you can’t just play one half. We played one half and it showed.”

Calera finished the season with a record of 7-5.