By Chris McCarthy/Editor
The 68th meeting of Etowah County’s two biggest football rivals certainly lived up to its billing last Friday (Sept. 28).
With Hokes Bluff coming into Friday night’s game looking for its first win of the season and Glencoe aiming to extend its four-game winning streak in the series, it was the homestanding Eagles who came away with a 27-24 overtime victory.
Brad Robertson’s 10-yard touchdown run on Hokes Bluff’s first play of the extra session gave Hokes Bluff its first win since Week 7 of the 2011 season, ending a seven-game skid for the Eagles.
The senior quarterback’s score came after the hosts held the Yellow Jackets to a 22-yard field goal by Joseph Bright on Glencoe’s overtime drive.
Glencoe (2-3) looked to have the game in hand after Thomas Ozmint’s 18-yard touchdown run and Bright’s PAT with 1:11 left in regulation provided the visitors with a 21-14 lead.
But that’s when a host of Eagle upperclassmen stepped up in a big way.
Senior receiver Dylan McKee returned the kickoff 46 yards, setting up the hosts at the Jacket 37 yard-line with just over a minute to play.
The Eagles quickly lost eight yards when Robertson was sacked by Blake Christian, but Hokes Bluff quickly regained five of those yards on an offside penalty on Glencoe.
That miscue made it third down and 13 at the 40, and the Yellow Jackets were flagged for pass interference on the next play, giving the hosts a first down at the 25.
Following an incompletion, Robertson found McKee on a slant pattern across the middle for 21 yards and a first and goal from the Jacket 4.
Robertson took it in for the score on the next play, and Bradley Pruett punched through the extra point for a 21-21 tie with 22.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“No doubt that we’re in trouble without Dylan’s big runback,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Mike Robertson. “He got it close, and Brad was able to make a couple of plays in the passing game. Matthew Watkins and Braydon Hawk and Chance Ford got some good blocks on the left side and Brad made a good cut and was able to get it in.”
Lost in the excitement of the final minute and the overtime session was the fact that Hokes Bluff won the turnover battle by a 4-1 margin. The Eagles did not generate any points of those fumble recoveries, but the Eagles did limit the number of Glencoe’s offensive plays.
“Ive played Glencoe the past 17 years, and I’m pretty sure that every year except for one, the team that turned over the ball the most, lost that game,” said Robertson. “So that was a big part of the game tonight. And our defense in overtime really looked like the old Hokes Bluff teams. This is a real good bunch of kids, and I really wanted something good to happen to them.”
Glencoe won the toss for the first overtime possession, and the visitors soon faced a third and 5 from the 5.
Hunter Nunnally threw a fade pass to Austin Hancock in the left corner, but McKee broke up the pass o force Glencoe to settle for Bright’s field goal.
“I just told the guys in the huddle to do their jobs and we’d get it in,” said Brad Robertson of the Eagles’ late drive in regulation and their overtime possession. “The [offensive] line was perfect and the receivers did what they were supposed to do.
“It seems like a dream finally getting to beat [Glencoe]. ” I’ve been waiting for that for my whole career.”
Robertson completed 8-of-20 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns, while Charlie Reed had three receptions for 50 yards and a score.
Braydon Hawk led the Eagle ground game with 40 yards on 10 carries.
Chase Pope had nine tackles, followed by Matthew Truett with seven and Dustin Herman with six.
Noah Click had two of Hokes Bluff fumble recoveries, both in the first half.
“We made enough mistakes to lose, and we lost,” said Glencoe head coach Lee Ozmint. “We’ve got a whole bunch of freshman and sophomores that are waiting for someone else to step up and make a big play. We can blame whomever we want to blame, but you can’t win with four turnovers. We didn’t make the plays when we had to, but I was poured of our offense for driving the ball the length of the field and answering [Hokes Bluff’s] touchdown and going ahead (on Thomas Ozmint’s touchdown). Our youth just caught up with us on [Hokes Bluff’s] last drive. I don’t think that our kids cracked under the pressure tonight, but we just didn’t do the little things we needed to do in order to win.”
The hosts had to overcome a slow start on offense, as the Eagles managed minus-13 yards from scrimmage in the first quarter awhile going three-and-out on their first three series.
Glencoe had no such trouble finding the end zone. After getting good field position at the Eagle 37 following Hokes Bluff first punt, the Yellow Jackets used runs of 22, 2 and 12 yards by Ozmint to get the to the 1, where Ozmint’s TD run and Bright’s PAT gave the visitors a 7-0 lead at 9:08 of the first quarter.
Hokes Bluff fared better in the second period, when an eight-play, 80-yard drive ended on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Robertson to Reed at 7:46. Pruett tacked on the extra point for a 7-7 tie.
Defense took over for the remainder of the half, as the team’s exchanged punts on four consecutive series. Glencoe’s Dalton Reid intercepted a pass on the final play before halftime.
The Eagles recovered a pair of fumbles in the third quarter, but both possessions came up empty.
Hokes Bluff took its first lead early in the fourth frame.
Starting at their own 14, the hosts eventually arrived at the Glencoe 48, where on a third down and 4 Chase Beggs scampered 37 yards to the Jacket 11.
Robertson rolled to his left and found Nick Woodruff in the end zone, and the touchdown and Pruett’s extra point made it 14-7 in favor of the Eagles at 10:49.
The visitors responded on the next series, a seven play, 64-yard affair that featured 37 rushing yards from Ozmint.
Daniel Otwell polished off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run and Bright’s PAT, knotting the score at 14-14 with 8:02 left in regulation.
Hokes Bluff was forced to punt on the its next possession, and a 23-yard pass play from Nunnally to Hancock set up Ozmint’s TD run, a score that gave Glencoe a seven-point advantage with a minute and change remaining.
“It’s been a long four weeks, and this [Class] 4A thing has been burning a hole in our pockets, so it’s just good to get a win against a very good and very well-coached team,” said Mike Robertson, who is now 12-5 against his cross-county rivals. “Coach Ozmint and my brother Charlie (Glencoe’s defensive coordinator) do a super job. We gave up some yards, but we finally made some plays defensively late in a game, which is something weren’t coding lately. That SEC Central of a region that we’re in is tough, but hopefully we can build on this.”
Thomas Ozmint finished with 151 rushing yards on 25 carries, while Otwell ran eight times for 51 yards.
Nunnally was 6-for-13 in passing for 99 yards. Hancock caught three passes for 65 yards.
Mason Brown had 16 tackles, followed by Christian with 10, Reid with nine Houston Word with eight and Pace Ozmint with seven.
Christian had three and a half sacks and four tackles for a loss. Brown had a pair of sacks.
“We played hard all the way to the end, and I don’t doubt my kid’s heart,” said Ozmint. “Hokes Bluff just did a good job of making plays down the stretch when they had to, and we just fell short. Coach Rob does a great job with his team, and I’m happy for them. We’re sitting at 2-1 in the region right now, and if we can recover from this and show that character that we need to show, I think we’ll be fine.”
Both teams resume region action this week. Hokes Bluff hosts Cleburne County, while Glencoe entertains Saks.