Tharptown falls for first time this seasonPublished 9:21am Monday, September 23, 2013
By Brannon King
For the FCT
Tharptown went to take on Decatur Heritage in Priceville Friday night with a plan for early success to match the fast start of their season.
The Wildcats scored on their first play from scrimmage, but couldn’t hold the lead as they fell 35-26 in the 1A region 8 battle.
The Wildcats lost the game, a chance for a perfect season and their quarterback in the contest. Senior leader Kelby Hallmark exited the game with 4:28 left to go in the first half after diving into the endzone for a touchdown and never returned to action.
“Kelby going down, that hurts but we’ve still gotta play. We played with other kids last week enough that they’ve gotta pick up the slack,” Tharptown head coach Bill Smith said after the game.
“If you don’t block better than we did tonight, you’re not going to win against anybody anyway.”
The extent of Hallmark’s injury was uncertain moments after the game.
“Hope we get Kelby back. If we don’t, we’ve gotta have somebody step up and take charge,” Smith said.
Tharptown relied heavily on Hallmark to build an early lead. The Wildcats drew up a trick play which featured multiple handoffs before Hallmark threw a touchdown pass to a familiar target, Trent Miller, on their first snap from scrimmage. Shawn Hines made the extra point and Tharptown led 7-0.
The Wildcat defense got off to a quick start as well forcing and recovering a Decatur Heritage fumble on the Eagles’ second play.
Tharptown took advantage of a fourth down conversion due to a pass interference call on Decatur Heritage to keep their drive alive. The penalty was one of many to come for both teams during the game. Hallmark later made the Eagles pay as he scored from three yards out. Hines made the point after to give the Wildcats the early 14-0 lead.
Decatur Heritage got their first points of the night on a touchdown pass of five yards from Taylor Nichols to Jackson Keith. The score ended a drive that started from their own 30. The extra point was no good and with thirty nine seconds to go in the opening quarter, Tharptown led 14-6.
The Eagles next scoring play came on a trick play of their own. Zach Armstrong caught a halfback pass from Grayson Wakefield for a 44-yard TD. Decatur Heritage quarterback Taylor Nichols then hit Armstrong for the 2-point conversion to tie the score at 14.
The next Tharptown drive was short-lived as Armstrong intercepted a Kelby Hallmark pass giving the Eagles the ball at their own five. Tharptown’s defense held strong and forced a short punt by the Eagles giving the Wildcat offense great field position only 11 yards from the Decatur Heritage endzone.
After a couple of THS penalties, Hallmark scored on a 12-yard run but was injured as he lowered his head to reach for the endzone. The following try for two was no good, but the Wildcats led 20-14.
Taylor Nichols then ran 68 yards for a TD on first down to put the Eagles on the board again. Josh Lara’s point after was good and Decatur Heritage took their first lead, 21-20 with 4:09 left in the half.
Decatur Heritage would score again just before the half as Nichols found Sawyer Holland this time for a TD pass of 28 yards. Lara’s PAT was good giving the Eagles a 28-20 lead.
The second half featured plenty of rain and penalty flags falling from the sky.
Decatur Heritage scored on their first drive of the half as Grayson Wakefield had a 6-yard TD run. Josh Lara again made the PAT giving the Eagles a 35-20 lead.
The final scoring play of the night came when Tharptown’s Allen Bohannon connected with Will Little for a 10-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter.
The two teams would trade punts, penalties and turnovers the rest of the way. Tharptown’s Orlando Diaz would recover two fourth quarter fumbles as the Wildcats never gave up in the game.
Tharptown will try to get back on the winning track in their next game at home against Cherokee.