Charles City big plays stun West Point in 28-27 shocker
Last season, Charles City’s Panthers lost the lead and eventually the game 28-27 to West Point in a hard-fought football clash on the Panthers’ home field. Last Friday night with the Panthers in the visitors’ role, Charles City shocked the unbeaten (3-0) Pointers by an identical 28-27 count.
The Panthers resorted to big plays on special teams and defense to offset almost a two-to-one deficit in total offense. Charles City finished with 249 yards to 406, including 331 on the ground, amassed by the Pointers.
But Trevor Jones’ 60-yard punt return handed Charles City its first lead in the second quarter. Then with the Pointers up by seven and driving for what would be a game-clinching score, linebacker Dominick Barbour stripped the ball from a Pointer running back and raced 78 yards to pull the visitors back within one early in the fourth quarter.
The winning points then blossomed from a more unlikely scenario. After Barbour’s TD return, the Panthers got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Thus instead of the ensuing two-point conversion try snapped from the three-yard line, the Panthers had to put the ball in play at the 18.
No problem. Jones at quarterback rolled left and drilled a bullet to tight end Dominic Jones in the front corner of the end zone. The visitors then stopped the Pointers on downs at their 30 yard line, erased more than six minutes off the clock with a drive of their own, and forced West Point to resort to a 40-yard field goal that fell short as time expired.
“I was just running hard and trying to protect the ball,” Trevor Jones said, looking back at the punt return as well as key runs that kept drives alive.
“I knew we could win it if we played as a team,” he said. “Everyone played hard the whole game and we pulled it through.”
“Huge,” Panther head coach Steward Greene said in describing the win against a school that reached the state Group A Division 1 semifinals a year ago.
“It’s a win that will help us going into our next contest,” he said. “Last year, we had it won and let it get away. We really wanted this one.”
West Point opened the scoring in the first quarter, but Charles City answered as Jones connected with wide receiver Dominique Williams on a slant-in pattern good for 36 yards and a TD on the second quarter’s first play. The Pointers ground out another score, but Joseph Tabb’s three-yard burst up the middle capped a 50-yard drive set up by Gregory Cotman’s fumble recovery and tied the game at 14-14.
Jones broke the deadlock with his punt return, coming with just over two minutes left in the first half. But West Point wasted little time in regaining the lead. L.A. Allen’s 26-yard scamper on a misdirection play handed the hosts a 21-20 edge at the break.
The Pointers rode momentum into the second half, taking advantage of a short Panther punt to start their next TD drive from the Panther 28 yard line. Aaron Roane’s one-yard plunge upped the hosts’ lead to 27-20.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Pointers reached the Panther 28 in a bid to put the contest out of reach. But from there on third down, Allen encountered Barbour on a sweep around the left side.
“I stripped it,” the Panther linebacker said about what happened next. “He wasn’t holding the ball very tight and I ripped it.”
“That’s when we got our confidence back,” Greene said. “After that, we started slow, methodical movement downfield and utilizing the clock to our advantage.
“These guys have been working their butts off,” the coach added. “We’ve told them nobody can beat you when you work hard.”
Jones labeled the victory that upped Charles City’s record to 2-0 as sweet. “It’s probably the biggest win of our careers.”