Running game powers Helena to playoff-clinching win

Published 10:59 am Saturday, October 10, 2020

By STEPHEN DAWKINS | Special to the Reporter

CALERA – A missed extra point and the hard running of Kobe Hughes helped Helena’s football team to a 14-13 win at Calera on Friday, Oct. 9, that clinched a playoff berth for the Huskies (4-4 overall and 3-2 in Class 6A, Region 3 play).

With the win, Helena locks up at least the fourth and final playoff spot out of the region despite not having played a game in almost a month due to forfeits.

Calera (3-4, 1-3) had chances to stay alive in the playoff hunt but was undone when, after the missed extra point on a wet field with about 6:30 remaining in the game, the Eagles were unable to stop Hughes, a senior who picked up three third-down conversions as the visitors ran out the clock on the final possession.

Helena squandered the game’s first opportunity at points when its first possession ended with a mishandled snap on a field goal attempt from inside Calera’s 10-yard line.

The Huskies got on the scoreboard on their next possession, however. A late hit called against the Calera defense extended the drive before Hughes rumbled for 20 yards to the Calera 4-yard line and then took a direct snap on the next play and pushed into the end zone.

Matthew Blocker’s point-after made it 7-0 with 3:33 on the clock in the first quarter.

Calera answered back on the ensuing possession.

On fourth-and-1 from its own 48-yard line, sophomore quarterback Tyler Nelson kept the ball on a read option play and sprinted 21 yards to Helena’s 31.

On another fourth down, this time needing 12 yards, Nelson rolled right and found junior receiver Kobe Prentice down the sideline for a first down.

Nelson on the next play leaped into the air to pass to junior Chris Cotton, who caught the ball between two defenders and then powered in for a 4-yard touchdown.

A sloppy second quarter yielded no points but five fumbles, only one of which was lost.

Calera ended Helena’s first possession of the second half with an interception inside the 20-yard line, and after a punt from each team, things got interesting with time winding down in the third quarter.

CHS was backed up inside its own 5-yard line as it lined up for a punt, and the kick hit one of the blockers in the back. The loose ball was recovered in the end zone for a Helena touchdown, and the visitors made it 14-7 on Blocker’s point-after 11 seconds into the fourth quarter.

With 8:29 to go, Calera took over on its own 17-yard line and made the play it had to have. Nelson found Prentice on a quick strike over the middle of the field, and Prentice did the rest, racing about 70 yards with 6:36 remaining in the game.

But the extra point was no good, leaving the Eagles down by 1 point and needing a defensive stop. Hughes and the HHS offensive line would not allow it, draining the clock over the course of three first downs and giving their team a road victory.