One touchdown was called back. One was allowed to stand.
That’s how close Great Crossing senior linebacker Trent Allen says his football team, struggling so mightily to compete most Friday nights this inaugural season, was to snagging a win against Montgomery County.
MoCo made the most of its breaks and held on for a 20-7 district victory, but GC didn’t look out of place in this entertaining, old school head-knocker.
“Defensively, best game we’ve ever had, no doubt, easily,” Allen said.
Little things, some of them out of the Warhawks’ control, cost them on big plays.
Nick Huff had 201 all-purpose yards of the 329 total for Montgomery County (3-4, 2-0), including a disputed, 74-yard touchdown gallop down the GC sideline on his team’s second play from scrimmage.
Great Crossing thought Kalib Perry had Huff wrapped up for a minimal gain. Allen, the second Warhawk on the scene, claimed he let up because an official told him the play was over.
“Mr. White Cap Ref, and I know it’s hard to see, but he yells, ‘(Number) 39, don’t hit him, he’s down,’” Allen said. “So I don’t, and he gets about halfway down the field and then (the official) yells, ‘It’s good, it’s good, it’s good!’ I was like, oh my goodness, are you kidding me?
“So that’s a touchdown called back, and if we didn’t get ours called back, it’s 14-13, and we won. But it happens, you know? That’s football.”
After two three-and-out series to start the game, Perry, the Warhawks’ multi-talented sophomore quarterback, appeared to pull GC even with an 80-yard scoring scamper.
Thanks to a block in the back near midfield, however, all but the first 11 yards were wiped out. The tale of two plays was another building block and a hard lesson for a program whose August-to-October progress is impressive.
“It seems like young teams, they come up short on two or three plays,” GC coach Paul Rains said. “I don’t like losing, and we’re getting our fill of it, but the kids are getting better.”
Great Crossing kept it a 6-0 game until the final 16 seconds of the half.
Huff was a handful once again on a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown march. He converted third-and-8 on a counter play early in the drive.
Later, after relentless fullback Josh Wheaton moved the chains on fourth-and-3, Trey Ishmael dropped a dime to a wide-open Huff for a 22-yard score.
“Defending this doggone Wing-T, you can’t cover everything,” Rains said. “You’ve got to defend the run, and then all of a sudden here comes a pass play every now and then, and it’s hard to cover.”
The Warhawks (0-7, 0-2) fell victim to air pollution again on the other side of halftime. After MoCo pinned itself just shy of the goal line by failing to immediately cover the kickoff, the Indians went 99 yards and gobbled up six minutes.
Huff had a 25-yard run and a 39-yard catch on the series, which ended in a fourth-down plunge by Wheaton from a yard out.
“If you look at every team, that’s what killed us is the pass,” Allen said. “We read the tight end, read the tight end. I guess we thought our job was easy. Then the back goes out, and bam.”
Wheaton carried 36 times for 139 yards to lead the Indians in that category. Allen, Alex Stapleton and Chase Little hounded Montgomery’s double-barreled ground attack all night with numerous tackles for loss.
GC also simplified its offense this week, switching to a power game more like the one Montgomery County and Scott County employ.
Levi Whalen and Kaspen Colbert took successful turns at fullback. Colbert, a freshman, churned out six consecutive gains to set up Perry’s score on a 16-yard keeper with 1:50 remaining in the third.
“We couldn’t get the ball outside. They refused to let us do that the way they lined up on us, so we couldn’t get our halfbacks into the game as much as we like,” Rains said. “I feel good about it. These offensive changes we made recently, we’re going to get better with that.”
Great Crossing set a season high with 146 total yards, including 64 from Perry on 10 carries.
Kase Buchanan’s pressure forced a fourth-down throw to an ineligible receiver to keep GC afloat in the fourth, but MoCo returned the favor by stripping the ball from Perry and into the hands of Gage Mapel to slam the door.
“I think we should have won that game. There were a couple of bad calls, but you can’t complain about it,” Stapleton said. “They destroyed Grant County, so I feel like we can beat Grant County.”
The Warhawks travel to face the Braves in two weeks with a playoff berth on the line after next Friday’s trip to undefeated Frederick Douglass.