The play that wasn’t worked beautifully
By John Brice | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
COOKEVILLE — Nick Myers never had a doubt. Cody Carroll knew the play would work.
And George Quarles was prepared to see his team’s fate decided in regulation.
But no one foresaw Maryville’s season getting extended and then ultimately ended in overtime, 36-35, by undefeated Whitehaven Saturday night at Tucker Stadium in the Class 6A State Championship. After Maryville’s regulation two-point conversation was nullified and Whitehaven’s overtime two-point proved the difference.
The Rebels appeared to take a 29-28 lead with less than 50 seconds to play when the quarterback Myers caught the wide receiver pass from Carroll. Maryville (14-1) players and coaches bounced jubilantly on the sideline.
“I love it. I love it. I love it. I want that,” Myers said. “Whatever he would have called, I had no doubt in my mind we would score. And to give me the chance, that’s an honor. It’s an honor to be trusted like that by everybody. All these coaches and my teammates, it’s awesome.”
Then the flag was spotted and celebration ended. Quarles had been prepared to go for the two-point conversion, controlling his team’s destiny, when the Rebels gained possession with just more than three minutes and down seven, 28-21. Falling to his backside, T.J. Kimble had caught Myers’ touchdown pass to position the Rebels for the go-ahead attempt.
“You know, a little bit of a helpless feeling,” Quarles said. “That’s what I told Jimmy (Gaylor) and David (Ellis). Have you ever felt helpless? And they said, ‘Yeah.’ But you knew it was going to end right there, one way or the other. Unfortunately it ended up on the wrong end for us.
“We had a chance. We had all kinds of chances tonight. We turned it over too many times to win a game like this, and we didn’t play good enough defense to win. Bottom line is we just didn’t play well enough to win the game.”
Whitehaven tailback Mark Dodson, the Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year who finished with 318 rushing yards and each of the ’Haven’s five scores, then ran around right end after Maryville had notched the first bonus score and kicked the PAT.
Yet Maryville’s sideline clearly felt the game should not have gotten to that point. Quarles said he wouldn’t send the film of the play into the TSSAA offices, but he noted the Rebels had executed the play consistently correct in practice leading into the championship.
“We put it in this week and ran it several times. Executed it well each time. That was a nice little play,” said Quarles, his voice trailing. “I don’t know; Like I said, I hope the one they called in the end zone was in the end zone. Or that’s a shame if he wasn’t.
“No (tape won’t be submitted to TSSAA). It doesn’t do any good. You’ve got to live with those. Just one of those things.”
Both Quarles and Myers, as well as Carroll, praised the Rebels’ resiliency and performance.
“We fought and gave great effort,” Quarles said. “We’re banged up, and the playoff run we had to take was an impressive one I thought. You could tell we were just a little bit out of gas tonight. And to still hang with a heck of a football team with Dodson and those guys. Super-athletic. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them.”
Carroll, whose eyes lit up at the play-call, lauded his teammates’ and coaches’ efforts.
“These guys are awesome; nothing to hang our heads about,” Carroll said. “Whitehaven is a great team. Sometimes you don’t get the breaks.”
Added Myers, “The guys at halftime after throwing two picks told me they had faith in me, so I knew coming out whatever happens, everybody’s going to be all right. Two-point conversion. Couldn’t have drawn it up any more perfectly and then to get that penalty.
“It was an awesome feeling during this run and it’s amazing to be here. Thank God for the opportunity.”