By Steve Williams
Webb School’s football team has an open date this week. No doubt the Spartans will enjoy their come-from-behind victory at Christian Academy of Knoxville just a little longer than usual before getting back to work.
Coach David Meske’s Spartans scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to stun neighborhood rival CAK 24-23 Friday night in a Division II Class AA East Region showdown.
Webb started its celebration by parading its flag on the field as students poured onto the opposition’s turf to join their players in the happy moment.
Trailing 23-18, sophomore linebacker Cooper Cameron intercepted a CAK pass and returned it 61 yards down the sideline in front of the Webb bench and fans to score the Spartans’ go-ahead touchdown with 2:47 remaining.
“I was lined up a little inside and my coach said widen out and watch the slant,” recalled Cameron after the game. “I read it, the quarterback threw it right to me and I put six up.”
Cooper admitted he had some doubt that he could make it all the way to the end zone for the pick six.
“I was gassed,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it and then I just kept running hard and made it.”
CAK senior Grant Sterchi was the intended receiver on the pivotal play.
“The linebacker did a good job of sitting in that window and he made a good play,” said Sterchi, who actually had a similar big play – a pick six in the fourth quarter – to seal the Warriors’ win at Webb last season.
The huge win gives Webb (2-0, 3-1) a share of first place with Silverdale Baptist Academy (2-0, 4-0) in the region standings. The Spartans’ next game will be at home against Grace Christian Academy on Oct. 1.
CAK, which went 10-0 in capturing the region title last year, slips to 1-1 and 2-2 overall. The Warriors will host Chattanooga Christian (1-1, 2-3) Friday.
CAK put the ball in running back JD Dunn’s hands after falling behind, but the Webb defense wouldn’t give up the home run.
`Starting from the 20-yard line, Dunn pounded the right side of the Webb line four straight plays, picking up two first downs and moving the ball to the CAK 45. But on the next play, the Spartans’ defensive alignment confused the Warrior offense and CAK had to call a timeout as the clock melted to 1:33.
Three more carries by Dunn set up a fourth-and-one at the Webb 46. Another timeout was called at 1:05.
Before the Warriors could get off their fourth down play, they were penalized five yards. A desperation pass by quarterback Thomas Simpson 20 yards downfield fell incomplete.
With 53.6 seconds left and the Warriors out of timeouts, Webb QB Charlie Robinson twice took a knee to end it.
“We pulled one out,” said a smiling Coach Meske. “We made a great play at the end. And what allowed that is on the defensive side we played really well. We held them enough that at least it gave us a chance.”
Meske pointed to Christian Academy’s second possession of the game.
“They started off on our 35-yard line and we gave up (only) a field goal,” he said. “I think that’s where it all started – on the defensive side.”
Chi McNeil-Harrison’s long kickoff return plus a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Webb set up the short field on that possession. The key play came down to senior defensive end Knox Foss stopping Dunn for a 1-yard loss on third-and-one at the 10.
CAK settled for a 28-yard field goal by Jack Britton that gave the Warriors a 10-6 lead with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Dunn scored his first of three touchdowns on a 3-yard run behind the right guard on CAK’s first possession of the game and Britton’s PAT made it 7-0.
Webb answered after a short kickoff by CAK and drove 55 yards in nine plays to score. Sophomore receiver Markeis Barrett grabbed a 13-yard pass from Robinson at the right front pylon for the TD. The Spartans missed the first of four conversion attempts but had pulled within one (7-6).
Senior tight end Ford Wagner caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Robinson just before halftime to put Webb ahead 12-10.
Dunn scored from the the 1 and 7 in the third quarter to give CAK a 23-12 advantage heading into the final period.
A 1-yard TD run by Robinson pulled the Spartans within five points (23-18) with 4:20 left.
“We still have a long season ahead,” said Sterchi, one of CAK’s team leaders. “If we just learn from this and make some adjustments in practice and just move on … It’s over and there’s nothing we can do to change it.
“If we continue to work hard, I think we can win out the rest of the region and hopefully something happens and things go our way.”