Veterans Memorial Middle School was crowned NewRoc champion Thursday night after defeating the Ray Davis Middle School Eagles 14-8 at Homer Sharp Stadium. It’s the generals’ fourth straight NewRoc championship.
It was a wild game even by middle school standards. The Generals didn’t touch the ball in the entire first quarter of play as the Eagles’ opening possession took nine minutes to complete.
Early in the second quarter, the Eagles finished their clock chewing, 19-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Lacash Lackey. The two point conversion gave Davis an 8-0 lead.
With 6:42 left until halftime the Generals finally got the ball for the first time but couldn’t do anything offensively and went into halftime down 8-0.
On the first possession of the third quarter, Veterans fumbled on its own 31-yard line, but the defense forced Davis to punt three plays later.
Early in the fourth quarter, Veterans capped off a seven-play, 37-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run by Jomandi Smith. For the two point conversion, the Generals resorted to a little trickery. The Generals spread six players wide left, sent two wide right and left just the center and the quarterback in the middle. From the shotgun, quarterback Tristan Payne made a quick pass to Smith who ran behind his five blockers to score untouched.
"In the second half we really opened up our play book" said Veterans coach Cliff Roberts.
Two plays later the Generals scored again, this time on defense. The Eagles fumbled in the backfield at their own 20-yard line and Jacory Saffo scooped up the ball and returned it for the score. For the two point conversion, the Generals tried the same trick play again, but this time Payne tried to run it himself and was tackled just short of the goal line.
With the Generals leading 14-8 and with five minutes left in the game, the Eagles opened up their passing game and took the ball all the way down to the 12-yard line. Using a trick play of their own, the Eagles scored with 12 seconds left, but a false start penalty wiped out the score.
The Eagles ran two more desperate plays but couldn’t get into the end zone as time ran out.
"Our guys just never gave up," said Roberts. "They [Veterans] just kept fighting and did what they had to do to win. I couldn’t be more proud of them."