Lealand Ashley scooped up a Kell Brown fumble and ran it 97 yards to the end zone as the Ware Shoals faithful exploded with excitement.
Some 80 yards back, the officials were blowing their whistles to tell Ashley he couldn’t return the failed two-point conversion and he had been flagged for illegal procedure.
But the Hornets didn’t care, and neither did their fans. After three games of mounting frustration, Ware Shoals had all but won its first game of the season, 20-6, over Great Falls.
“He didn’t hear the whistle because the crowd was cheering. It was a fumble, he picked it up and we were yelling, ‘Run, run, run,’” Ware Shoals head coach Mike Craigo said. “We told (the officials) after the play he didn’t hear whistle. They said, ‘I know, but I still have to give it to him.’ And I said, ‘I understand.’”
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Brown, the Great Falls quarterback, fumbled the ball on a two-point try after the Red Devils scored on an Elijah Simpson touchdown with less than a minute left in the game.
Ware Shoals recovered the ensuing onside kick and took a knee to secure the win.
The score didn’t matter much after the Hornets jumped out to a 20-0 first-half lead.
On the first Great Falls drive, Ware Shoals defensive lineman Christian Walker blocked a punt that Will Calvert returned for a touchdown.
“We worked on that all week, and we looked at their alignment and how they blocked it. We felt we could get it,” Craigo said. “We stressed the whole week: ‘We’re going to block a punt, we’re going to block a punt.’”
Ware Shoals also scored on a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jermarius Goodman. An interception returned for a touchdown by defensive back TyDreke Carroll gave the Hornets a three-score lead heading into halftime.
Ware Shoals held Great falls to just 21 total yards of offense.
Great Falls 0 0 0 6 – 6
Ware Shoals 14 6 0 0 – 20
WS – Will Calvert blocked punt touchdown (Conversion fails)
WS – Jermarius Goodman 1 run (Calvert pass to Andrew Coker
WS – TyDreke Carroll interception return touchdown (Kick fails)
GF – Elijah Simpson 3 run (Conversion fails)
Rushing: WS: Carroll 10-23, Shon Lowe 2-21, Jermarius Goodman 7-17, J.D. Holbrooks 2-8, Christian Walker 4-6, Lendarius Burton 13-(-7). GF: Elijah Simpson 13-13, Quay Bowser 4-(-2), Kell Brown 15-(-36).
Passing: WS: Goodman 2-5-30, Holbrooks 2-4-31. GF: Brown 4-17-46.
Receiving: WS: J.D. Holbrooks 1-23, Dana Givens 1-16, Will Calvert 1-15, Lowe 1-7. GF: Kelton Talford 1-30, Zac Roberts 1-10, Zadayon Adams 1-6, Simpson 1-0.
Records: Ware Shoals 1-3; Great Falls 0-3
Next game: Greenwood Christian at Ware Shoals, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15; North Central at Great Falls, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22