By Mark Clark
As Central High running back A’Montae Spivey was loaded on a gurney to be taken to an awaiting ambulance, he called for his coach. His words were exactly what you would expect from the senior Arkansas commit.
“Coach DuBose. Coach DuBose,” Spivey called out.
“I’m right here A’Montae. I’m right here with you,” DuBose responded.
“Coach, tell the guys to go win this thing,” Spivey said as he was carried on his way to Midtown Medical Hospital.
DuBose promised he would relay the message, as if the players had not already made their plans to dedicate the remaining 2:54 to their teammate who had carried the team’s rushing workload all season.
Sophomore Joseph McKay had just tied the game with a 6-yard touchdown run to cap a 98-yard drive. It was now up to Central’s defense to get the ball back in its offense’s hands for a last try to win the contest before going into overtime with a R.E. Lee Generals’ offense that had no problems all night scoring on a short field.
The defense did its job – just like it had all season. The Red Devils’ defense forced the Generals into a three-and-out with a punt. Central’s offense got the ball back on its own 25 – 75 yards away from a winning score and 54 seconds away from heading into overtime.
Central quarterback Peter Parrish, an LSU commit, ran for five yards on first down and the clock ticked down. He ran 11 yards on second down to the Central 41, stopping the clock to reset the chains on a first down. McKay bulled seven yards on the next play and Central quickly got back to the line for the next play as the clock continued to run. Parrish threw a 3-yard pass to Peter Jakes for another first down with 25.1 seconds to go. Parrish then threw a pass near the Central sideline to Kameron Mason. The ball slipped through the tight end’s hands incomplete and stopping the clock with 18.5 seconds left.
Then the play of the game was called – and perhaps the season – as Parrish went back to Mason down the middle and Mason caught the pass. Not only did he catch the pass, Mason ran all the way to the end zone for the winning touchdown, a touchdown that sends Central to the Class 7A championship game on Dec. 5 at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium against Thompson High of Alabaster which defeated Hoover with a touchdown with 21 seconds to play in that game.
Central defeated R.E. Lee 34-27 with 8.4 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock to continue its perfect season at 13-0.
“The play wasn’t there when we called it. The safety was in the middle of the field right where we wanted to throw the ball. Just as we snapped the ball, he ran to the other side of the field and it was open. Pete made a good throw and Kameron caught it. It was the same play we used against Auburn to go ahead of them,” DuBose said.
The game-winning drive of 42 seconds and ended a night of frustration for the No. 1 ranked Red Devils who lost four fumbles – two on special teams – that kept the Generals in the game with short fields to maneuver. While Central’s offense totaled 566 yards for the night, the Generals had just 208.
The majority of the Generals’ yardage came on runs by Tedarrian Murray. Murray working from the Wildcat most of the night ran for 166 yards on 29 carries and scored all four of his team’s touchdowns. One scoring drive for the Generals was for 75 yards while the other three were for 26, 24 and nine yards because of three of the four turnovers.
Central led twice in the contest on its first and last possessions. McKay ran 80 yards for a touchdown on the Red Devils’ first offensive play to give his team a 7-0 lead.
Murray tied the game on a 2-yard run with 4:08 left in the first quarter. He had a 52-yard run to begin the drive.
Then Murray upped his team’s lead to 14-7 with a 3-yard run on a 9-yard drive following a botched punt reception at the Central 9 by the Red Devils. The Generals led 14-7 at the half.
R.E. Lee went ahead 21-7 after Central gave the ball to the Generals at the Red Devils 26 with a fumble on the first play of the second half. Murray ran for 13 of the 26 yards, including the last one into the end zone.
Central answered the Generals’ touchdown with one of their own on a 13-yard run by Parrish to cap a 68-yarrd drive of nine plays to make the score 21-14.
Central’s defense stopped R.E. Lee’s ensuing possession and forced a punt. The kick hit a Central player and the Generals recovered at the Red Devils’ 24. Murray scored on a 4-yard run to give R.E. Lee a 27-14 advantage with 4:15 left in the third quarter. The extra-point kick failed.
Central went 80 yards in eight plays to cut the margin to 27-20 with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Parrish to Jakes with 2:00 left in the third quarter.
Then Central drove 98 yards in 11 plays to tie the game with McKay’s second touchdown on a 6-yard run. Pell’s kick failed and the game was tied at 27-27, setting up Mason’s touchdown catch to send Central to the Class 7A state championship game.
But Central’s defense had to stop the Generals’ final play – a Hail Mary pass that was intercepted by Marquez Henry to begin the celebration for the Red Devils.
McKay had six carries for 112 yards with two touchdowns for Central. Spivey had 18 carries for 107 yards. Parrish ran for 81 yards on 15 attempts.
Central, 13-0, will face Thompson High on Dec. 5 for the Class 7A title at Auburn University’s Jordan-Hare Stadium. Central last played for and won a state title in 1993 in Class 6A. It is Central’s only title in school history.
R.E. Lee ended its season at 8-5.