Muscle Shoals, Ala. --Locked in a tight matchup against an offense with some of the best athletes in the state, the No. 1 ranked Muscle Shoals Trojans were on the ropes in the fourth quarter at home against Pinson Valley in the second round of the AHSAA Class 5A state playoffs.
Pinson Valley held a 21-17 advantage early in the final period when the Trojans rolled the dice and went for it on fourth and goal at the five. Running back Jamarcus Nance was stopped at the one-yard line, but Dee Liner changed the game on the next play.
Liner came off the end and tackled Pinson Valley quarterback Matthew Garrett for a safety on a sneak.
"You really don't know," Muscle Shoals head coach Scott Basden said of the gamble. "I thought we had a good play set up. We tried to chip up to the linebacker and missed him. I thought if we could pin them down there that deep they only had a couple of options--either sneak it out like they've done all year or throwing the deep ball. We changed field positions. We felt like we could recover if we didn't get it."
After the safety, Muscle Shoals took the next possession down field and Blake Logan connected on a 32-yard field goal for the 22-21 lead, which was the eventual final score.
Pinson Valley spread the field and made Liner a non-factor for much of the contest, but the Scout.com five-star defensive lineman made his presence felt late in the game.
Liner made a down-field tackle after Pinson Valley had picked up a first down and moved inside the red zone down just a point. With a first and 10 at the Trojans' 19, Liner then got in the backfield and tackled Garrett for a five-yard loss. The Indians eventually settled for a 41-yard field goal try on fourth and 15, which sailed wide right.
"They've got so many play-makers," Basden said. "They spread you out and put you in tough positions. But I'm proud of our kids. They kept fighting and responding. This time of year it's about surviving, and we survived one more day.
"They've got a great football team, and we're not a bad team either," Basden added. "It was a battle all night. It was what you would expect in the playoffs. That's why football is the greatest sport. It's tough when somebody has to lose, but thank God we're moving on."
For Pinson Valley and head coach Matt Glover it was a tough way to finish for the second straight season.
"A field goal--one point, two years in a row," he noted. "What I told Muscle Shoals is that hopefully it'll work out for them the way it worked out for Hartselle last year--in the second round got beat by one point and they went on to win it all."
Hartselle travels to Muscle Shoals on Friday for round three of the playoffs. The Trojans won the previous meeting midseason 28-21.