Calera wins thrilling 4 OT game against Helena

Published 12:50 am Saturday, October 15, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

CALERA – Following his 77-yard punt return for the Calera Eagles to even the score 24-24 with 2:25 remaining in a region and county battle with the Helena Huskies on Friday, Oct. 14, Braylyn Farrington walked to his teammates on the sideline and said, “We aren’t losing this game.”

Four overtimes later, he proved to be right.

The late touchdown from Farrington not only helped force overtime, but he had the first two touchdowns for his team in overtime, while the Eagles eventually staved off a 2-point try from the Huskies in the fourth overtime to pick up a 52-51 win.

“No words,” head coach Jason Hamlin said after the game as players and fans celebrated around him. “We were 1-5 in our career against Helena. I think our first win came when it was their first year as a school. I told our kids before the game, we don’t have anything to lose. We just have to come out and play football.”

After Helena missed a 52-yard field goal to end regulation, the two teams entered overtime and chaos quickly ensued.

The Huskies struck first on a Dalton Lewellyn 2-yard touchdown, as he carried the ball twice for 10 yards to put Helena on top 31-24.

Calera’ quickly responded with a one-play first overtime on a 10-yard pass from Preston Stokes to Farrington to even the score.

The back-and-forth continued as Stokes hit Farrington for 10 yards again on the first play of the second overtime, while Helena got 7-yard passing touchdown from Lewellyn to Hunter Hale.

Lewellyn then added a third touchdown and second rushing in overtime with a 3-yard touchdown run on third down during the third overtime.

That put the Huskies up 45-38, but the Eagles responded once more on a 3-yard touchdown run from Daniel Brown.

With that, Calera surpassed the three overtimes it took to beat Briarwood a week earlier. However, it didn’t take much longer.

On the first play of the fourth overtime, Stokes added his third touchdown of overtime with a 10-yard run to put the Eagles back in front 52-45.

The defense then stepped up and forced Helena into a fourth-and-2 from the 2-yard line on the ensuing drive. Mason Johnson, however, plunged in the short and clutch run to make it 52-51.

Out of timeouts in the overtime, the Huskies looked like they wanted to go for two, but ultimately sent the kicking unit out, only the kicker didn’t jog out. That led to chaos, as he sprinted onto the field late and eventually lined up to kick with five seconds left on the play clock.

Ultimately, the Huskies attempted a roll-out pass rather than kicking it, which and Julius Marsh batted the ball down to send the Calera players and fans storming into celebration on the field.

 “That’s seven overtimes in two weeks,” Hamlin said. “We’ll find a way. I’m just so proud of them. They didn’t quit. Earlier in the year, we let games slip away from us, but now, we’ve had two really good weeks.” 

It marked an impressive bounce back for the Eagles, who gave up 21 in a row to start the second half after leading 17-3 at the half.

The game started with both defenses controlling the game in the opening quarter, but turnovers quickly turned to excitement.

The opening quarter, however, saw just three points on a field goal from TJ Hernandez that put Calera in front 3-0.

The Eagles did string together another drive going into the second quarter, but a fumble at the 1-yard line eventually recovered by Kevin Pinkard led to a touchback and gave Helena the ball.

But Helena couldn’t capitalize, and shortly after, Calera found the end zone for the first time.

After receiving a punt from the Huskies, the Eagles put together a two-play drive that saw Preston Stokes hit Braylyn Farrington on a short pass. Farrington made a couple of moves before sprinting away from the defense for a 62-yard touchdown catch that put Calera in front 10-0.

Helena strung together a couple of successful passes on the ensuing drive, but a big hit on Hunter Hale led to a fumble that gave the ball right back to the Eagles.

Punts, however, became the story over the next three possessions, with the last one from Calera being fumbled and giving Helena great field position.

Taking over at the Eagles’ 15-yard line, Helena was unable to score a touchdown, but the Huskies got a 26-yard field goal with 1:48 to go before the half.

It looked like that was going to lead to a seven-point game at the break, but a big kick return from KD Young of 75 yards set up the Eagles at the Helena 19 with 1:20 to play in the half.

Calera eventually faced fourth-and-1 from the 9-yard line and decided to go for it.

That became key, as Daniel Brown gained 2 yards for the first down. Two plays later, Stokes hit Dalton Ash for a 7-yard fade pass that ended with Ash tapping both feet in bounds to make it 17-3 going into the halftime break.

Helena, however, is a second half team, and that showed for the majority of the second half.

The Huskies forced a quick three-and-out and then scored in two plays on the ensuing drive with an 80-yard pass from Lewellyn to Nathan Wade.

Then, on the next defensive series, Helena made another big play. This time a low snap to Stokes ended in a scoop and score by Nathan Thomason.

All of a sudden, the Huskies had tied the game at 17-17 in less than three minutes of play in the second half.

Calera then fumbled the ball on the ensuing kickoff as all momentum seemed to be slipping away.

The Huskies, however, couldn’t capitalize, eventually missing a 27-yard field goal.

But Calera only had one first down in the second half, as the offense struggled to move the ball.

Helena eventually capitalized and took the lead with 6:28 to play when Hale caught a 31-yard pass from Lewellyn to make it 24-17 Helena.

Calera followed with a three-and-out once again from the offense, but the defense did its job in forcing a punt on the ensuing drive. Farrington took the return, broke a tackle, made one juke and was off to the races for a 77-yard return to make it 24-24 and eventually force overtime.

“We knew Helena was a second-half team,” Hamlin said. “They came out in the second half and hit us in the mouth. It took us a little while to settle down, but once we finally settled down and played. I know my DC is going to hate putting up a 51-spot, but a win is a win. That is a really good football team.”