Early mistakes lead to Trojan heartbreak, fall at Tabb 28-26
A trip Friday night to Bailey Field in York County for the New Kent Trojans was expected to be the start of a playoff run. Instead, the flame of a fire that once gleamed bright dimmed the chances of the visiting Trojans.
After overcoming turnovers and performing well in the second half, New Kent couldn’t snatch victory from the hosting Tabb Tigers, falling 28-26 in the Bay Rivers District contest. It is the second year in a row that New Kent suffered a two-point defeated to Tabb.
Tabb exploded out the gate quickly against the visiting Trojans. Tiger running back Joel Martin scampered 30 yards for a touchdown five minutes into the contest. On the next series, quarterback Emmitt Marks orchestrated a 64-yard drive, capped off Marks 26-yard pass to Martin, eventually leading to Martin’s nine-yard tote and a 14-0 Tigers’ advantage.
The Trojans struggled to move the ball down the field. New Kent quarterback Nathan Thornton saw a pass intercepted by Tabb’s Dre’ King. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ air attack diced the secondary of New Kent as Marks connected with Aiden Sutton on a fourth and 10 from the 35-yard line for a touchdown toss down the middle of the field to a 21-0 advantage.
The visiting Trojans were finally able to wreak havoc on the Tigers. With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Trojans compiled a drive that was capped off by a Nick Wiles touchdown run from five yards out. After a successful pooch kick recovery by Tanner Day for the guests, Thornton connected with Joey Campbell who hauled in a 20-yard catch with one hand for another score to cut Tabb’s lead to 21-13 heading into halftime.
Switching to a game plan to keep the ball out of Tabb’s offense’s possession, New Kent started to grind on he ground to move down the field. With the assistance of Tiger penalties, New Kent composed a 65-yard drive that burned eight minutes off the clock and saw Wiles convert a one-yard run. The Trojans’ attempt to tie the game up failed on the conversion, as a pass from Thornton to Grubbs was dropped, leaving the visitors trailing by two (21-19).
Penalties plagued both teams in the fourth quarter before Tabb snapped their scoring drought. Tiger running back Cory Kidwell’s dash up the middle from 26 yards out pushed the hosts’ advantage to nine (28-19) with 6:36 showing on the clock.
New Kent marched down the field again, but Thornton’s pass was intercepted by Tiger defensive back Logan Koontz in the end zone. But after the defensive back’s decision to bring it out, New Kent’s defense provided key stops, forcing Tabb to punt. With 2:36 on the clock and good field position, the Trojans put together a touchdown scoring drive in 1:35 as they watched Jamie Jones carry the ball in the end zone.
But the waning moments of the game favored the hosts. An onside kick by the Trojans failed. With only one timeout remaining, New Kent couldn’t prevent Tabb from taking knees to run out the clock and win the contest.
After the game, New Kent head coach John Fulks talked about the early mistakes that put the team behind in the early stages of the game.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes early by not tackling good,” he said. “On offense, Nathan [Thornton] made some really bad throws, but he also made some good ones as well.
“We had a lot of turnovers, but this team keeps on fighting,” Fulks continued. “We made a lot of mental mistakes and we can look to what could have been.”
New Kent falls to 3-5 on the season.