Crossett stumbles around before beating McGehee

It's never a good indication of the kind of game that was played when the officials get as much ink as the players.

By HEATH WALDROP

The Ashley News Observer

McGEHEE – As soon as the officiating crew incorrectly signaled which team

would take the opening kickoff, the Crossett sideline should have realized

that it would be one of those nights.

 

Everything but the final score went wrong for the Eagles (3-0), who defeated

the Class AAA McGehee Owls (2-1) 30-18 on Friday night. Even though Crossett

rolled up 334 rushing yards including 170 and two touchdowns by senior

fullback Ray Charles Tucker, the questionable – some might say

atrocious – officiating was the story of the ballgame.

 

In the eyes of the visiting fans, horrendous ball-spotting, missed calls and

phantom calls were so commonplace that by the end of the night, they

expressed great surprise when plays were run with no yellow flags on the

turf. The officials drew the ire of CHS coaches on more than one occasion.

 

Head coach Teodis Ingram after the game declined to speak on the record

about the referees.

 

"I'm a professional, and they did the best job they could," he said simply.

 

The Eagles were whistled more times on Friday night (11) than they had been

in both previous games put together (10). McGehee, meanwhile, was flagged

just three times.

 

The problems Crossett faced in victory could not be blamed solely on the men

in black and white, however. The team had no turnovers in its first two

games, but things changed on Friday as the Eagles had four. CHS also had not

trailed in its first two games but had to come from an early touchdown back

to beat the Owls.

 

In a five-minute swing, the Eagles piled up 24 points, taking the lead with

less than a minute left in the first half, scoring on their first drive of

the second and then stabbing in after a McGehee turnover.

 

The Eagles came out sharp with good field position after a poor Owls punt.

Plowing between the tackles, Crossett picked up three first downs and scored

on a 4-yard Tucker run. Tucker's PAT kick attempt failed due to a bobbled

hold.

 

McGehee, however, responded. After Eagles defenders thought tailback Johnny

Polite was pushed out of bounds on a short third-down run, Polite cut back

to the middle of the field for a 27-yard gain – the longest Owls run of the

night. The Eagles went on to hold the home team to a 41-yard missed

field-goal try, but after taking over on first down CHS quarterback Stetson

Moon was harassed on a linebacker blitz and threw short of the mark,

allowing Leeroy Blackmon to intercept.

 

Four plays later, Polite pushed in on an 8-yard touchdown run. The extra

point kick failed, leaving the game tied at 6 early in the second quarter.

 

After the kickoff, the Eagles fumbled two straight snaps, the second of

which was recovered by McGehee's Lekevious Bailey. Again Crossett's defense,

led by an active front four, held the Owls to a field goal attempt. A bad

snap left the ball on the turf and kicker Vernon Johnson picked it up in an

attempt to complete a pass, but CHS cornerback Coangelo Herman batted it

down.

 

Crossett's offense sputtered and punted from its own 30 on the following

series. An obvious block in the back that occurred a few feet in front of

the line judge on the return was missed, helping the Owls set up near the

50. On second down, quarterback Keitron Logan took advantage of the size

mismatch and threw to his 6-9 tight end Michael Washington for 45 yards.

Polite cut into the end zone from the 4 on the next play, putting the Owls

ahead 12-6 with 3:14 to go before halftime. Polite was stopped short on the

conversion run effort.

 

With time ticking away, Tucker came up big on first down, busting through

the middle for a 54-yard gain. Tailback Derrick Furlow, who finished with 98

yards on just 10 carries, ran for 9 and Tucker for 7 more before Moon

fumbled again and recovered. Tucker then got the call and ran in for a

touchdown from the 8. Herman's conversion run was good and the Eagles took a

14-12 lead into the locker rooms.

 

Now with the momentum, the Eagles received to open the second half and

mounted an authoritative drive done all on the ground. Moon changed the play

at the line of scrimmage and kept the ball himself on a 40-yard touchdown

run with 8:07 left in the third quarter. Furlow took a deep pitch in for

two.

 

With McGehee back on offense, Logan looked over the middle again on first

down and safety Martinez Modisett jumped high to pick off the pass, spinning

360 degrees and returning it for 30 yards. On the second play of the drive

Moon found tight end Chris Cross with a step on his defender and lobbed the

pass to the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Tucker's conversion run

was good.

 

The rest of the night was sheer frustration for the Crossett coaches as

multiple questionable calls and bad spotting made for a herky-jerky game and

an agonizingly-slow clock. Ingram requested an audience with the officials

on more than occasion and eventually, the Eagles coaches were flagged for

unsportsmanlike conduct because referees said that they were standing

outside of their designated area.

 

The score remained 30-12 until McGehee's final drive when the Owls moved 48

yards in nine plays and found the end zone on a 5-yard Logan keeper. Logan's

pass attempt was incomplete on the conversion.

 

CHS completed its non-conference schedule undefeated, and moves into Friday

night's game with Stuttgart on a high, which Ingram said is the most

important thing.

 

"We¹re going to have some bad halves," he said. "The biggest thing I told

them was to put it behind them."

 

Crossett lost to the Ricebirds by a point in overtime on the road last

season, and the coach said his players are dying to get another shot at

them.

 

"If you miss it, you¹re going to miss a treat," Ingram said.

 


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