August 23, 2009 12:39:00 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
SHANNON -- Someone had to make one more play.
Michael Carr appeared to have what the West Point High School football team needed.
But Keon McGaughy snatched what Carr couldn''t hold to give Shannon High exactly what it wanted.
McGaughy caught a ball that tipped off Carr''s hands for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds remaining to lift Shannon to a 27-20 victory in the season opener for both teams.
The final play was a fitting outcome in a contest that saw both teams have players rise to the challenge.
"Anytime we get us and West Point it is going to be a barn burner," Shannon coach Chad Cook said. "We scrapped and we clawed. They were cramping. We were cramping. We were subbing people. They were subbing people. It was a great game. How else better to start the season. The bad thing was someone was going to have to lose.
"We made one more play than they did tonight."
West Point High''s Xavier Hogan overcame cramps to rush for 183 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. He gave the Green Wave new life only for a short time after he scored from 8 yards out to tie the game at 20 with 1:37 to play.
Carr''s sweep to the right side was stopped, which gave the Raiders a final chance to end things in regulation.
McGaughy didn''t miss his opportunity.
The senior receiver listened earlier this week when Cook challenged him to be an impact player. He said his effort showed he is ready to be a game-changer.
"The whole week (Cook) was telling us, ''Are we in or are we out?'' ," McGaughy said. "If we''re in, we will start playing to the fourth quarter. That''s why I did."
Following a sack by West Point''s Curtis Virges, Romia Wilson, and Deismon Robinson gave Shannon a second-and-19 from its 23 with 55 seconds remaining, McGaughy caught a 43-yard pass from Legilbert Bogan on the right sideline to push Shannon closer.
An offsides call against West Point gave Shannon a first-and-five from the 29 and set up the winning score.
Bogan dropped back and spotted McGaughy streaking down the right sideline into the end zone. Carr came over from the left side of the field and appeared to have the interception lined up. He jumped inside the 5-yard line but the ball deflected off his hands into McGaughy''s arms for the game-winning points.
McGaughy said Bogan has showcased his arm strength in practice. He said he and Bogan have worked in practice on their timing so he can be ready to make plays like the last one when Bogan didn''t deliver a perfect ball but he was in position to deliver.
"I just did what I had to do," McGaughy said. "He kept asking me if I was in or if I was out. I told him I was in and I had to go out and play all four quarters."
West Point High School coach Chris Chambless thought Carr was in position to make a game-winning play.
"We broke on the ball and had it right in our hands," Chambless said. "I thought we were fixin to pick it an go for six. It just went through out hands. We were in position but didn''t make the play.
"We''ve got to cover the pass better. That''s all there is to it. We have to play better technique football up front on defense and cut down on the pre-snap penalties."
Carr didn''t want to talk after the game.
Chambless said West Point doubled McGaughy at the end of the game. He said he thought the Green Wave had him in good position to prevent him from making a play.
Bogan helped the Raiders rally. After splitting time with starter Jake Scott in the first half, the junior right-hander showed his arm strength in the third quarter when he stood flat footed and threw a high, deep ball to McGaughy on the right flank.
Two West Point defenders, one who suffered from cramps, fell on the play, allowing McGaughy to catch the ball and score on a 61-yard pass play that helped give the Raiders a 20-14 lead with a little more than two minutes to go.
"He''s a team player," Cook said. "We have 16 seniors and I told them they have to talk at practice and somebody has to lead. ... He has done an excellent job. He is saying, ''Just give me a crease, we can score.'' He is a total player.
"When you take a game like this, somebody has to step up, and he did. Players make plays."
Cook praised all of his coaches and assistant coach Ken Topps for his work with the quarterbacks.
"If you give Bogan time, he can put it on the money," said Cook, who will watch film to determine if Bogan''s effort helped him earn the starting job.
McGaughy scored his first touchdown on a 67-yard run after taking the snap from center. His second touchdown could have been the play the Raiders needed to seal the deal if not for Hogan.
The senior running back, who also scored touchdowns on runs of 12 and 21 yards, punched the ball home from 8 yards out after Justin Cox connected with Michael Bush on a 45-yard pass to give the Raiders a first down at the Shannon 17. A 9-yard pass to Carr pushed the ball inside the 10.
"He will get stronger as the year goes on," said Chambless said, whose team played without junior running back LaKenderic Thomas (dislocated elbow). He hopes to get him back in a couple of weeks.
West Point hurt itself all game with mistakes. The Green Wave committed 13 penalties, had five fumbles (two lost), and threw two interceptions.
Chambless said some of those mistakes could be attributed it to being the season opener. Still he said the Green Wave have plenty of things to work on.
"We played sloppy at times, and when you play sloppy it hurts you," Chambless said. "We have a lot of things to correct. Our kids played hard, but we made too many mistakes. You can''t overcome mistakes."
He also said the West Point High players will have to do a better job of drinking enough fluids to prevent cramping. Multiple West Point players suffered from cramping throughout the game, which was played in dry but humid conditions.
"We hydrate them ad we do all we can when they''re with us," Chambless said. :It is not a question of being out of shape. You cramp up because you don''t have enough water in your system. We have to do a better job drinking water so we can go hard every play."
After the game, Chambless spoke to his players on the field and then the seniors raised their voices and tried to re-focus everyone on the goal at hand. They closed the huddle by saying, "State champs" in unison.
While the loss was painful, some of the players and Chambless realized it won''t affect the Green''s Wave''s ability to win its district and make a run to the Class 5A title game.
"Everybody is hurting right now, and I am hurting, too" Chambless said. "But we have to bounce back and come back in a couple of weeks and beat Columbus."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.