CCHS wins first playoff game since ’96

Published 11:22 pm Friday, November 9, 2012

Mr. OT: Chilton County’s Austin Rossi hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the third overtime Friday against Saraland. Rossi also scored a touchdown in the first overtime period and blocked an extra-point attempt in the second.

After a mostly defensive struggle throughout regulation, the Class 5A first-round playoff matchup Friday between the Chilton County Tigers and the Saraland Spartans turned into a shootout in overtime.

CCHS won, 33-27, in the third extra period, for the school’s first playoff victory since 1996.

The Spartans scored first, after recovering a muffed punt return by CCHS. Jay Ward hit Jefferson Gatewood for a 14-yard touchdown pass midway through the first quarter. They scored on another Ward pass to make it 14-0 midway through the third.

The Tigers (10-1) began to chip away, finally scoring late in the third on a Chance Britnell 33-yard pass to Vadall Morrow. Stephen Horn added the extra point to make it 14-7.

Both teams swapped possessions back and forth until the Tigers were able to sustain a drive that ended when Richard Hilliard scored on a 3-yard run to make it 14-all following the Horn kick.

With a minute to go in regulation, the Spartans had the ball on the Tiger 4-yard line following a fumble, but a goal line stand by the Tigers saw them give up no yards, and forced the Spartans to attempt a field goal.

The snap went over the holder’s head and led to overtime.

In overtime, the Tigers took to the offense first and scored on a misdirection to Austin Rossi, making it 21-14. The Spartans followed suit, as Ward hit Mitchell Sanders for an 8-yard-pass, and tied it up with a Cole Travis extra point.

Saraland scored on a Ward keeper in the second overtime, but Rossi made a leaping block of the extra point, to make it 27-21 Spartans.

The Tigers scored to tie it at 27 on a Hilliard run, and at first appeared to have the win when Horn made the extra point; however, the Spartans were offside and the Tigers were forced to retry the point after, which was no good.

The Tigers scored on a fourth down attempt in the third overtime, when Austin Rossi pulled in a Britnell pass, but a holding call negated it, and moved the Tigers back 10 yards. The Tigers tried again, using the exact same play and found the exact same result, making it 33-27 following a missed extra point.

The Spartans then could not find the end zone on two straight Ward incompletions, falling to the Tigers 33-27.

“We started out like we did against Calera,” said head coach Donnie Hand. “We picked it up during the second half, and played on guts, dirt and tears in the three overtimes.”