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By BRODY JONES
COALFIELD - Improbable. Unlikely. Unexpected. These are just a few words that describe the Coalfield Yellow Jackets rallying from a 14-0 deficit at one point to score seventeen unanswered points for a thrilling come-from-behind 17-14 win over the Harriman Blue Devils.
Coalfield senior Ryan Armes booted through a 20-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Jackets to the 17-14 win over Harriman on Rochelle Field.
"If you're a kicker, that is what you dream about is getting to make that game-winning kick. Under a lot of pressure, he (Armes) came through big time. He did a super job and came up with a big kick there at the end and I'm just very excited for him and the whole team," offered Jacket head coach Keith Henry.
The win currently puts Coalfield in the driver's seat for the fourth and final Region 2-A playoff spot. Meanwhile, Harriman needs to beat Oakdale and for Sunbright to defeat Coalfield this week to get into the playoffs.
"It was just one of those nights," said a dejected Harriman head coach Travis Tapp. "We got an early 14-0 lead and they (Coalfield) did a good job of coming back. It was just a rain-soaked night where anything could happen."
"All we can do at this point is just come out and play football next week."
An elated Henry had this to say in victory. "It was a heck of a win. Harriman's got a great ball-club and the game could have easily went either way. I was proud of our kids coming back from being down 14-0 in the bad weather. We played hard and came back with 17 points to get the win right there at the end. Give a lot of credit to Harriman. They have a great ball-club and have a lot of quickness on their team."
"It was one of those must wins for us. Probably since the Grace Christian game, our young men have really came on an put a lot of extra effort into things and it has paid off."
After Coalfield punted away their first drive, Harriman took a mere three plays and 55 yards to score on a 47 yard touchdown sprint from Brandon Williams. Parker Freeman's PAT was good, making the score 7-0 with 8:47 to go in the opening quarter.
Coalfield would manage to move the chains on their next drive before punting it away.
Both teams would then trade punts to close out the first quarter with the score still 7-0. The Devils then embarked on a nine play and 37-yard drive, scoring on a two yard touchdown plunge from Travis Gann. The PAT was good, making the score 14-0 with 7:41 to go in the game.
Two plays into the Jackets next drive, Shawn Armes broke free on a 62-yard touchdown run, wrapping up a two-play and 70 yard drive. Ryan Armes' PAT was good, making the score 14-7 with 7:41 to go in the half.
Two plays into the Devils next drive, Luke Jackson recovered an errant Blue Devils fumble. It only took one play for Shawn Armes to make an encore trip to the end-zone, from 28 yards away. Ryan Armes hit the PAT to tie the game at 14-14 with 5:09 to go in the half.
Two plays into Harriman's next drive, another fumble was recovered by the Jackets deep in Devils territory, this time by Boone Wilson. The Jackets, however, could not capitalize and turned it over on downs.
Harriman then ran the clock out to end the first half tied at 14-14.
"Even though we were down 14-0 early, we played hard and kept believing. We tied the score up there before half-time and had the momentum. We came out in the second half and just kept playing hard and finally got a break to go our way and ended up with a field goal there at the end. We played hard and were being really physical like we wanted to do. You keep working at it and good things are going to happen and it did," said Henry.
Harriman went three and out on their opening drive of the second half and both teams then traded punts before the Jackets got inside the Harriman ten yard line before a botched field goal attempt resulted in a ten yard loss on fourth down. Harriman got the ball back and ran out the clock in the third quarter with the game still knotted up at 14-14. Harriman would punt the ball back to the Jackets, who seemed to have scored the go-ahead touchdown (Shawn Armes raced in from 50 yards), but a personal foul for taunting was called, nullifying the apparent touchdown. The Jackets would eventually punt the ball into the Harriman end zone.
"Shawn (Armes) had a 50-yard touchdown run called back there and if we had got that and been up 21-14 who knows what would have happened, but the game sure wouldn't have been as exciting as it was at the end. We came out with a W so we can't complain," commented Henry.
The Devils weren't able to move the chains and punted it back to the Jackets, who got inside the Harriman 30 before turning it over on downs.
Instead of playing for an overtime, Coalfield elected to use a time-out with :22 left and force Harriman to punt the ball back. The snap went over Parker Freeman's head on fourth down, giving Coalfield prime field position at the Harriman 4 yard line with :18 seconds to go.
"Coach (James) Bales did a great job in getting a time-out for us, so they punted the football and gave us a chance there at the end without going to overtime," said Henry.
Coalfield got two yards on their next offensive play before setting the stage on a cold, damp October night for Ryan Armes to kick perhaps the biggest field goal in his career. Armes split the uprights on the 20 yard field goal as time expired, giving the Jackets the thrilling 17-14 victory.
"I think we made the right call to go for the field goal and that's what we were going to do." said Coach Henry on going for the field goal.
"We preach special teams all the time. Special teams is going to help you win ball games and it did."
Coalfield's defense forced two fumbles and stopped harriman eight times in the backfield.
"It was hard to do anything in this weather. Our quarterback couldn't grip the ball to throw it and it was just one of them deals." said Coach Tapp following the game.
Coalfield's 204-yard rushing effort was led by Shawn Armes (29-188, 2 TD) and Ryan Armes (9-30). Freshman Allen Seiber returned two kicks for 32 yards.
"We knew we had to control the line of scrimmage and make it a physical ball game. We went to the power set and our linemen did a super job on both sides of the football. Our runningbacks ran super hard and Arron Huff blocked well," said Henry.
Harriman was led in rushing by Brandon Williams (9-77, 1 TD) and Dimitrique Inman (11-13). Travis Gann was 1-5 for 8 yards through the air and had 10 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Coalfield was led on defense by Arron Huff (11 tackles, 1 behind the line), Blake Farmer (10 stops, 1 behind the line), T.C. Armes (9 tackles, 2 sacks), Shawn Armes (8 tackles, 2 behind the line), Luke Jackson (7 tackles, 1 FR) Austin Hensley (7 tackles, 1 behind the line) and Boone Wilson (6 tackles, 1 behind the line, 1 FR). Wayne Fletcher (3 stops in the backfield, 1 sack) and Ryan Armes each added 4 tackles, while Devin Smith added 3 stops.
"They (defense) did a great job and played super hard and shut them down most of the game," offered Henry.
The Blue Devils were led on defense by CJ Anderson (8 tackles), Travis Gann (7 tackles, 1 TFL) and Christian Pryor (6 tackles, 1 TFL).
The Jackets won on the ground 204-92 to win total yardage by a 204-100 margin.
"With the speed that Harriman had, we knew we had to stop the double-wing and the handoff," said Coach Henry about his defensive strategy. "They do a good job of that and it
showed in the first part of the ball game. We adjusted to their speed well, I thought. When they went to the five-wide set with their quarterback, we worked hard this week in practice to contain that and we stopped that as well."
The Jackets (3-6, 2-3 in Region 2-A) wrap up their regular season with the 2008 edition of the Coalfield-Sunbright Rumble this Friday. A win over the Tigers (4-5, 1-4 in Region 2-A) will get the Jackets into the playoffs.
"Sunbright has got some good athletes and they have done well with the coaching transition. They have played people tough and we're going to have to really prepare well and get our kids up and try and execute and play hard on another Friday night," said Henry.
"It's not always where you start, it's how you finish. Our kids have persevered, and worked hard and believed. If we get a chance to make the playoffs, it's a new season then and everybody starts out even again."
Coalfield has only missed the playoffs three times (1988, 1999 and 2003) in the last twenty years.
If Coalfield makes it into the playoffs this season as a #4 seed, they will either face Grace Christian Academy or Cosby out of Region 1-A.