Oak Mountain misses opportunities in 7-point loss to Clay-Chalkville

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CLAY – An interception with 30 seconds left to play ended Oak Mountain’s chances of upsetting Class 6A No. 7 ranked Clay-Chalkville on the road on Thursday night, Oct. 29, as the Cougars pulled out a tightly contested 21-14 victory.

Oak Mountain had chances to win or tie the game in the second half, but the Eagles missed opportunities, including no points after earning first-and-goal inside the 5-yard line twice in the second half.

The Eagles actually led 14-7 with less than three minutes to play in the first half, but the offense relied on two big touchdown runs from Evan Smith as its only points of the game after missing the scoring chances in the second half.

On Oak Mountain’s first play from scrimmage, Smith faked the hand off to Judah Tait and the defense crashed in on the defensive line. That led to the left side being wide up for Smith, who saw the hole and got great blocks from Titus Tucker and Mark Johnson to spring start an 81-yard touchdown run that put the Eagles on top 7-0 in the first 17 seconds of the game.

After that exciting start for the offense, it looked like we may see a strong offensive quarter, but both offenses became stagnant the rest of the opening quarter on a chilly night.

But at the start of the second quarter, the Cougars got a quick score of their own after a strong drive was capped off with a 14-yard touchdown run from Lazarius Hinkle with 10:35 remaining in the half.

Smith, however, had been kept quiet for a quarter after scoring his opening touchdown, making him due for another big play.

On an option play to his right, Smith took one step before he saw a wide open hole in the line. Just like the first touchdown run, he busted through, then made one juke to his right to make the defender miss, before cutting left up field for a 77-yard touchdown run that put Oak Mountain back in front 14-7 midway through the second quarter.

Clay, however, answered quickly when Khalib Johnson hit Marquarius White for a 59-yard touchdown pass to even the score with 2:43 left in the half.

Oak Mountain had a chance at points before the half, but penalties kept the game knotted at 14-14.

But the Cougars capitalized on getting the ball first to start the second half. After converting a third-and-13 in its own territory, they put together a strong drive before eventually capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown run to take a 21-14 lead with 8:10 to play.

Now trailing for the first time all night, Oak Mountain put together the perfect drive looking to even the score again.

But after earning first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Judah Tait through the line and the ball met the knee of a Clay-Chalkville defender popping it loose, and the Cougars recovered.

The Eagles ended up making a great defensive stand, however, and blocked a punt to take over near the 20-yard line late in the third quarter.

Oak Mountain quickly got back to the 5-yard line after a couple of good runs, but on the next play, a botched play led to a loss of 13 yards, creating second-and-goal from the 18-yard line to start the final quarter.

The Eagles worked hard to get back to the 5-yard line, but after getting stuffed on third-and-goal, they had to settle from a field goal from 20 yards out.

Clay, however, was able to bust through the line and get a hand on the kick to keep the lead at 21-14.

The Cougars then went on a long drive that got down to the Oak Mountain 25-yard line. But after another big stand from the Eagles’ defense on third and fourth down, Clay went on to miss a 40-yard field goal wide right to give the ball back to Oak Mountain with 2:44 to play.

The Eagles put together a drive that featured a fourth-and-6 conversion on a strong play by Noah Young with 1:20 left, which was soon after followed by a holding to set the Eagles up inside the 40.

But shortly after, Smith threw a deep ball that hung in the air far too long, leading to a batted pass that was eventually intercepted by the Clay defense with 26.6 seconds to play, which ended the game.

Smith finished the game with 13 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns to lead Oak Mountain. The defense was led by Dean Null, who had a special performance with 10.5 tackles, including one for loss and one sack.

Oak Mountain will now travel to Austin for the first round of the playoffs on Friday, Nov. 6.