SHAW — It was a muddy, wet and slippery night here at Herman “Coach” Smith Field Friday night for the contest between the Shaw Hawks and the Ray Brooks Tigers.
Despite the conditions, the two teams provided an exciting night of football, which was also the Region 2-1A opener for both squads.
The game came down to the wire, but it was Ray Brooks who made the right plays at the right time to secure a 24-16, overtime victory. The Tigers improved to 3-0 on the season with a 1-0 mark in Region 2-1A. Shaw fell to 2-2 on the year and 0-1 in region play.
The Tigers are the only team in the undefeated team in the area and the only team over .500.
Tied at 16-16, the tension built on the field as the Hawks were threatening to score inside the five-yard line with under a minute left in regulation.
The Hawks had fourth-and-eight on the 10-yard line following a low snap from the center that the quarterback had to fall on, which backed the team up.
Fortunes shifted for the Hawks as the Tigers were called for two back-to-back offside penalties, which eventually put the Hawks on the two-yard.
On fourth-and-two, Ray Brooks’ defense stood tall and turned the Hawks away to regain possession of the ball on the two-yard line.
The Tigers tried to move the ball, but a deep throw from Mardarius Nix was intercepted by Erin McCain to close out regulation and send the game into overtime.
In the overtime period, the Tigers received the ball first and was able to score on fourth down when Nix connected with Jalen Ward for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was good and the Tigers led 24-16.
The Hawks moved the ball on the first couple of downs, but on third down, Kevin Hoskins rolled out to the right and tried to connect with a receiver in the corner, but the pass was intercepted by Ward to end the ball game.
“I have to take my hat off to Coach (Montrelli) Finley,” Ray Brooks head coach Ricardo Tigler said. “He had the guys ready to play and they had a really good game plan for us.
“It is always good to start the year with a win in the district. I’m proud of the guys, and we are happy to go ahead and get this win. What this does is hopefully put us in position to be right there at the end and challenge Hollandale (Simmons) for the district championship again,” he added.
Finley felt Coach Tigler and his staff put together an outstanding game plan that really made things challenging for the Hawks.
“They did a good job doing what they wanted, but we hurt ourselves too much tonight,” said Finley. “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot especially on the first drive where we had three penalties. I think we had nearly 20 penalties in the game, and you cannot win a game against a good team with those type of penalties.”
Penalties were a big problem for most of the night for both teams, but it was Ray Brooks who received the benefit of errors early in the second quarter.
With the ball, the Hawks were forced to punt following a sack from a host of Tiger defenders. The Shaw long snapper put too much on the ball and it sailed over the punter’s head.
In pursuit of the ball, the Tigers managed to recover the high snap at Shaw’s 23-yard line to put the team in great field possession.
The Tigers wasted no time and were able to get on the board off a 23-yard touchdown pass from Nix to Ward with 10:20 left in the second quarter. Nix ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Ray Brooks lead.
The Shaw defense made its impact on the game later in the second quarter as it recorded a safety to pull the score to 8-2.
On the ensuing kickoff, Shaw’s Montrelli Finley, Jr., broke free on a 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 1:01 left in the quarter. The conversion attempt failed, but the game was now knotted at 8-8 and it would remain that way to halftime.
In the third quarter, the Tigers regained the lead off a short run from Yo’Derrious Nelson with 9:15 on the clock. Nelson added the two-point conversion for a 16-8 lead.
With 2:47 left in the third quarter, Shaw’s Jamarrion Walker made his presence felt as he capped off a drive with a touchdown run. Walker added the conversion to tie the game at 16-16. The game remained 16-16 at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime where the Tigers secured the victory.
Ray Brooks will be back in action Friday night, as the Tigers will hit the road to McAdams to play McAdams High School in a Region 2-1A contest. Shaw will be off for the next two weeks and won’t be back in action until Sept. 28 when the Hawks host Simmons in a Region 2-1A showdown.