COPPERHILL, TN -- They celebrated homecoming here at Copper Basin High School Friday night, but the Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers spoiled the party.
Scoring the game-winning touchdown with less than four minutes to play in the game, the Buccaneers improved to 3-5 overall, but more importantly 2-0 in District 5-A, as they beat the winless Cougars by a 14-7 final.
"That was a gritty football team we just played," Buccaneer head coach Grant Reynolds told his players as they gathered on their sideline following the hard-hitting affair.
"We outlasted them tonight and we're 2-0 in the district. Now we get to play for a district championship in two weeks. We had a good solid effort, but this is like a shot in the arm for us. It was just two old-school football teams running the football, but it's a "W" for us and that makes us feel a whole lot better," Reynolds continued.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came late in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 7-7. Facing a fourth-and-3 from their own 39, Austin Jackson's number was called and he responded with a 58-yard run down to the Cougar 3.
Two plays later, he bulled into the end zone from the same spot with 3:43 to play and the difference was 14-7 following Brogen Baker's second PAT of the game.
"That was the whole game right there. He made me look like a good coach on that play," Reynolds praised his junior, who led all rushers with 164 yards on 18 carries.
Copper Basin was out of timeouts at this point and they started out in a hole at their own 4 after getting flagged for holding on the return. Denzel Brown, who topped Copper Basin's running game with 121 yards on 21 carries, picked up 16 yards in three straight attempts to get his team out of the hole.
Quarterback Jackson Ledford completed three straight passes four plays later, including one of 17 yards to Aaron English, another for nine yards to Trevor Jones before another one of 15 to English as the Cougars moved across midfield to the 48, but Jackson saved the day for the Bucs with an interception in the final minute.
Needless to say, there are no moral victories in high school football, but Copper Basin coach Patrick Dailey was really proud of his young team and how they fought for the entire 48 minutes.
"I couldn't be any more proud of the effort my kids gave in this game as we played our hearts out," Dailey said in the quiet confines of his office inside the Cougar field house.
"When you give your best effort in a game like this, the scoreboard can't make you a loser. That's the best game we've played all year. We came close in this game as one of our goals was to outhit them. We came close and that was a success for us.
"We've improved since the season began as we're playing a bunch of young kids, but I couldn't be any more proud of the effort we gave tonight," Dailey stated.
These two teams traded turnovers in the first quarter with Jones intercepting a Jim Cardwell pass at the Copper Basin 1. Four plays later, Skyler Anderson recovered a Cougar fumble on the 15. Cardwell scored on a keeper from the 4 with 2:20 to go in the first period as the Bucs made it 7-0 with Baker's first PAT.
Copper Basin knotted the score with a touchdown 34 seconds before the half when Ledford hooked up with English for a 20-yard TD pass. Brown's kick sent the two teams into their respective dressing rooms at the half in a 7-7 tie.
The Cougars had their best drive of the game on their first possession of the second half. Baker had attempted a 41-yard field goal that was wide, but the Cougars used 17 plays and almost nine minutes to march down to the Buccaneer 15, but on a critical fourth-and-4, Cardwell deflected a Ledford pass as Copper Basin walked away without any points.
The teams traded punts one more time before Jackson had his longest run of the game and scored the game-winning touchdown.
Boyd-Buchanan finished with 272 total yards, including 241 on the ground. Copper Basin countered with 243 total yards, including 182 on the ground.
Jackson's 164 yards was tops for the Bucs while Cardwell added 68 yards on 11 trips, including 56 yards on seven carries in the first half.
Chris Lyon, Damaris Macon, Baker and Cameron Pope all had one reception for the Bucs with Lyon's 16 yarder being the longest.
Brown's 121 yards topped the Cougars while Jones added 35 yards on 11 trips and also had a pass reception for nine yards. English was the leading receiver for Copper Basin with 52 yards on three catches.
The Cougars will be at home again next week to host Lookout Valley while Boyd-Buchanan will head to Dunlap to take on the Sequatchie County Indians.
BOYD-BUCHANAN 7 0 0 7 -- 14
COPPER BASIN 0 7 0 0 -- 7
BB -- Jim Cardwell 4 run (Brogen Baker kick), 2:20 left in first;
CB -- Aaron English 20 pass from Jackson Ledford (Denzel Brown kick), :34.5 left in second;
BB -- Austin Jackson 3 run (Baker kick), 3:43 left in fourth.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)