With just over six minutes remaining in the first quarter of the 1A state championship game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, home of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, Benjamin Tate broke a 15-yard TD run to give Snow Hill a 6-0 lead. With that carry, Tate also set a new state record for career rushing yards, everything was coming together.
However, Snow Hill's opponent, Allegany High, was not in the mood for storybook endings, unless it was its storyline. The Campers, who had previously won seven state championships and were 13-0 coming into the contest, capitalized on five Snow Hill turnovers, including a botched snap on a punt that was recovered on the Eagles' two-yard line, to smash any hopes of a perfect finish to Tate's magical career with a 41-20 win.
"We still had a great season even though we came up short, but at the end it was a little tough," Tate tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I felt like it was almost the perfect season, breaking the state rushing record in that game and being able to win the state championship in that game. I just thought that would be the prefect season besides missing the three games that I got hurt. I thought it would be the perfect season and I thought we could pull it off, but it just didn't work out."
Benjamin Tate was very disappointed that he could not close out his senior season with a state championship.
Although the Eagles took their show all the way to the state title game and beat their biggest rival and Tate's former team (Stephen Decatur High) for the first time in years, the tailback says that he cannot just look back on his senior season and smile.
"I can't say I was happy, but I can't say I was disappointed either," he explains. "I felt like the first half of the season I was 100 percent and I felt like myself. Then, in the second half of the season after I got hurt I kind of didn't feel like myself anymore for the rest of the season. That was kind of disappointing because I would try to do things that I could do in the beginning of the year, but at the end of they year I just couldn't do them.
"My first couple of games back I didn't want to get hurt," he continues. "Our trainer was telling me that in piles you have got to go down, and I would think, ‘man, that is not me, to fall down when I see a bunch of people coming,' but I had to do those type of things to help my team and keep playing. I just didn't like it, but I had to do what I had to do. Overall, I think I had a great career, but as far as my season, I don't think it was up to par with where I wanted it to be. I still finished with over 2,000 yards. I broke the state record for career yards rushing (5,920 yards) and I also broke the one for total offense in a career."
Even though he is certainly not happy with the way he closed out his high school career, Tate says he knows it is time to move on to his next challenge.
"It is just like one chapter in my life just ended and it is time to start another one and it is going by so fast," he says. "I am up for the challenge, but I know when I first get there it is going to be hard being away from my family, and just everything, but I am up for the challenge. I feel like it is something that I have to do and it is only going to benefit me. I think it is going to benefit me in the long run trying to be a successful player in the SEC."
For Tate that challenge will begin quickly. The talented rusher, who is graduating from Snow Hill high school this week, will move to Auburn early next month, take his first college class on January 9th and begin his first spring practice as an Auburn Tiger in late February or early March.
"I am definitely excited about spring practice and everything like that," he says. "That was the whole point in coming here to have a spring under my belt to help me learn the offense, and things like that. Getting to learn the offense from Kenny Irons and Brad Lester and those guys, I think it is going to be a great experience for me. I also get to compete with those guys and I definitely think I can compete with them, so I think it is going to be pretty fun."