By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
With apologies to Einstein, time may have briefly stood still Friday night at Chilhowie.
Creative clock keeping aside, the frantic fourth quarter spectacular between the Warriors and Tazewell will long live in the memory of those who saw – or perhaps heard – it.
The Bulldogs (0-4) were at one point hopelessly outgunned, trailing 27-7 with only 5:11 to play. Chilhowie (3-1) was so comfortably ahead that Warrior coach Jeff Robinson was graciously removing starters and giving the reserves some late-game playing time. Fans were slipping away and the red glow of tail lights sparkled in the parking lot as the stands began to empty.
But wait – the fat lady never even started tuning up, perhaps knowing that the fuse was about to be lit for an explosive finale. Tazewell would score a blistering 30 points in the quarter. Chilhowie answered in dramatic fashion, perhaps even going beyond the final seconds to claim one of the great victories in recent school history.
After 838 yards, 37 first downs, 11 touchdowns, and a host of other not-so-important statistics, the classic contest came down to half a second and one field goal.
Both sides played their hearts out and both could claim miraculous rallies. Both teams made some tremendous plays. There was no quit in either team. When the game ended, players and coaches shook hands. No disruption. Plenty of good sportsmanship. It was (almost) a win-win for both schools.
Warrior coach Robinson told one reporter, “Both teams could claim a miracle. Nobody could say Tazewell did not make a great comeback but remember what kind of heart it took for our team to come back and win. I’m very proud of my players.”
Warrior hero Justin Jones proved the ultimate hero as his 25-yard field goal settled near the spot where the Warrior tee-pee sits behind the end zone, a fitting happy hunting ground for the pirouetting pigskin that sailed up between the goal posts and signaled defeat for the Dogs who watched helplessly as defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory.
“He (Jones) has done a great job kicking for us,” smiled Robinson. “He uses an old-style straight-edge shoe but he got the job done. He is one of our captains and he sure lived up to that tonight.”
Jones had already rushed for 135 yards, scored a pair of touchdowns, kicked four extra points, and played a solid defensive game as the final minutes approached. It appeared that he and his CHS teammates had the game well in hand. They had maintained control for almost three quarters.
Then, the fireworks began.
Jones had scored a touchdown and the two-point conversion to push Chilhowie ahead 42-21. Tazewell awoke from its offensive slumber and Jesse Moutain scored. Malik Davis added a two-point conversion, cutting the margin to 42-29. Still 1:06 to play.
Carter Rasnick dropped an on-side kick barely 10 yards upfield and grabbed the loose ball himself. Bulldog possession.
Davis, who would finish with 10 completions and 239 yards passing, dropped back and fired a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mountain, who grabbed the pigskin near the five and scrambled in for the score. Davis, who scored twice on runs and picked up 126 on the ground, went airborne to Juwan Jordan for two more points and THS moved to within five points, at 42-37. Still :41 seconds left.
The parking lot suddenly brightened again. Fans listening on their radios raced back to their seats, or stood screaming along the fences, wanting to watch more miracles unfold in the extraordinary affair.
Rasnick, not satisfied with one amazing play, made it two straight when he trickled another on-side kick up along the left hash mark and dived into the pile to recover his own kick for the second time in less than a minute.
Davis and Mountain decided that they, too, would repeat success. Davis dropped, Mountain raced down the same right sideline, and Davis hit him again with another 49 yard-scoring pass, making it 128 yards receiving for the junior speedster. That second touchdown took slightly less than :11 seconds. The extra point failed but with half a minute to play, Tazewell led 43-42. Call Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
It ain’t over until it’s over, however.
Chilhowie’s Tyler Pierce immediately started moving the Warriors downfield following the kickoff. With Jones & Co., and the offensive line working hard, Chilhowie got a fortuitous penalty call and a strong run by Pierce to move the ball down to the 10-yard line with, somehow, half a second left on the clock.
It was all Jones needed and despite a hard night of running, blocking, and tackling, his leg had plenty of strength left to drill the ball right on target through the uprights.
Celebration. On the Chilhowie side, the wildly happy players, coaches and fans shouted with joy ecstatic that the black-and-orange had emerged with the triumph.
Desolation. On the Tazewell side, part of the terribly disappointed green-and-white clad group dropped to the ground while others stood in shock and still others pointed to the scoreboard wondering how any time remained for the last play.
Tazewell coach Shane Allen sighed, “We shot ourselves in the foot getting behind early. Both teams made some great plays -- Chilhowie has a good team. We traded touchdowns. For most of the game, neither defense could stop the other offense. Kids on both sides just kept fighting hard. There were some missed opportunities and I think we are continuing to get better.”