Never out of it: Helena scores 22 unanswered in wild playoff win

By GRAHAM BROOKS | Special to the Reporter

HELENA – It’s been said for generations that the game of football offers many life lessons and on Friday, Nov. 6, the Helena Huskies learned to never give up as they scored 22 unanswered points all in the second half to take down Carver-Montgomery 22-19 in a wild first-round matchup of the Class 6A playoffs.

“I just told them you learned a life lesson right there,” Helena head coach Richie Busby said. “Take away football, no matter what happens to you in life, no matter what the situation is, keep fighting and something good will happen.”

The Huskies’ had seemingly everything go against them in the first half as the offense failed to score points twice inside the Carver 5-yard line. A blocked chip shot field goal and a lost fumble on the 1-yard line on first-and-goal made it seem like it wasn’t going to be Helena’s night.

“Yeah, we didn’t play well in the first half offensively,” Busby said. “I think we were a little juiced up and we tried to do some things we don’t normally do but at the end of the day, our kids have got more fight in them than I can ever imagine.”

Carver capitalized and jumped out to a 19-0 lead at the half.

But it was a tale of two halves as Helena came out ready to fight in the second half.

The Huskies got on the board with 5:09 left in the third quarter as wide receiver J.C. Sivley made a great catch in the end zone when quarterback Mac Turner hit him for a 31-yard touchdown on third-and-17. The Huskies converted the 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 19-8.

After missing a chance at another touchdown catch to start the fourth quarter, Sivley made up for it through the air. On a trick play, Sivley caught a pass and came up firing across the field where he found a wide-open Kolby Harris who strolled in for a 30-yard touchdown. Marquis Johnson ran in the two-point conversion to make it 19-16 Carver.

After stopping the Wolverines at their own 1-yard line with less than four minutes to play, Helena got the ball back with prime field position and a chance to take its first lead.

On third-and-goal from the 3, Turner tried to hit Harris on a slant route for a touchdown and Carver was flagged for pass interference. A few plays later, Johnson broke the plane of the goal line and scored to give the Huskies’ their first lead with 2:37 to play. Helena led 22-19 after the extra point was missed.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Huskies successfully recovered a squib kick, which helped milk the clock under one minute and forced Carver to burn its timeouts.

After a long pass inside the Helena 40, Carver had a few chances to heave it to the end zone in the final seconds, but on the last play of the game, the Huskies’ intercepted it as time expired to complete the wild comeback.

“I don’t know what to say, our kids, my goodness, they are so tough and when they went in the locker room a receiver said ‘Coach I want to talk to everybody after we make our adjustments,’” Busby said. “This is just a great place to coach and community. The fans stayed and pulled us through, and the band did a good job and it was just an unbelievable win for our community.”

Helena will now travel to Mobile on Friday, Nov. 13, to take on Spanish Fort in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.