August 29, 2009 11:47:00 PM
Football coaches drill the importance of the fourth-quarter effort into their teams.
Many will pace the sidelines holding up four fingers and shouting "fourth quarter."
The last 12 minutes sometimes involves a team blowing a lead due to exhaustion or sloppy play or players emerging to make a big play.
The latter happened Friday night for the New Hope High School football team in a 28-17 victory against Tupelo in the season opener for both teams.
Tupelo, trailing by only four points with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, drove to the New Hope 34 aided by the passing of quarterback Nathan Wallace and the power running of McKenzie Tyler.
The potential go-ahead scoring opportunity was denied by a wall of defenders, including Seth Stillman and Kendrick Langford, who stopped a reverse for no gain and caused a fumble that the Golden Wave recovered.
Tupelo was forced to punt as the third quarter ended.
Tupelo recovered a Johnny Beamon fumble on the New Hope 30 to start the fourth quarter. On first and 10, the Trojans'' Marquise Coleman scooped up a Tyler fumble and rambled 70 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Ryals'' kick made it 21-10 with 11 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the game.
New Hope''s defense again rose to the challenge when defensive back Raymond Walters intercepted a Wallace pass and ran 33 yards for the Trojans'' final score.
Tupelo drove on the next series set up by a pass from Wallace to Jeremy Foster to the New Hope 1. Hobson sneaked it up the middle for the score and also kicked the extra point to make it 28-17 with 2:09 remaining.
Tupelo''s onside kick was recovered by New Hope at its 47. A Zak Thrasher pass to Daniel Gregory for 23 yards allowed the Trojans to run out the clock.
"We knew Tupelo is a tradition-rich team," New Hope coach Michael Bradley said. "Tupelo has a good ball club and they are going to win some games. They did a good job adjusting to our Wildcat at halftime. They are a very well-coached team. My impression is both teams got tired. We were able to make some big plays. We have a lot of speed on defense"
New Hope led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 14-10 at halftime, and 14-10 at the end of the third quarter.
The Trojans scored first when Thrasher ran up the middle and scored from 1 yard on a quarterback sneak. Ryals made the first of four extra points with 2:51 remaining in the first quarter.
Thrasher''s score was set up by an 8-yard gain by Darius Petty, a 10-yard gain by Beamon, a 16-yard run by Terrence Dentry, and a 6-yard reception by Gregory.
Thrasher (8-for-13, 96 yards) relied on his receiving corps of Gregory (three catches), Lawrence Brown (three), and Dentry (two). He also punted four times for an average of 34 yards, including a long of 46 yards.
Dentry led New Hope in rushing with 79 yards in 16 carries. Petty rushed for 45 yards and Beamon gained 21 yards.
"We beat a good team in Tupelo," Thrasher said. "Our defense scored 14 points. Our receivers got into some open spaces and caught we ball. They were playing man and sometimes it''s easier to get a receiver open in man rather than zone. They (Tupelo) played good defense, but we found some holes at times."
Tupelo scored early in the second quarter after taking the kickoff and marching 66 yards. A run by Tyler up the middle of the defensive line capped the drive. Hobson tied the game at 7 with 11:45 remaining in the second quarter.
The Golden Wave drove down the field on its next possession, highlighted by a Wallace to Terrell Pinson pass for a crucial first down at the New Hope 36.
The Trojans defense, led by Kris Douglas and Jeremy Wells, stalled a potential scoring drive and forced Tupelo to settle for a field goal attempt.
Hobson split the uprights with 4:10 remaining in the half to give Tupelo a 10-7 lead.
It took New Hope less than three minutes to answer.
After Tupelo''s kickoff, Dentry led the charge, running up the middle to the Golden Wave 28. He then caught a Thrasher pass for 14 yards. On first-and-10 at the 13, Dentry exploded up the middle out of the "Wildcat" formation for a touchdown that helped the Trojans regain the lead, 13-10.
Ryals'' extra point gave New Hope a 14-10 lead with 1:22 remaining until halftime.
New Hope''s defense played aggressively the entire game. Anthony Nelson made five tackles and two assists to lead the Trojans. Jeremy Wells and Lendrick Langford each had 4 1/2 tackles and three assists. Walters had four tackles, two assists, and one interception.
Tupelo''s Wallace completed seven passes for 98 yards. Hobson passed for 33 yards.
Tyler led Tupelo with 84 yards on 20 carries.
"I thought there were two equal teams our here playing," Tupelo coach Eric Collins said. "They took advantage of two big turnovers. They got the fumble-scoop and score and we got the fumble- scoop and score, but they (referees) called it down. They got the interception and scored and if we''d have gotten the fumble and scored then we may not have thrown the interception. Who knows. There''s really no excuses. We lost everybody -- 11 players -- last year."
Bradley was reflective after his team''s big win.
"That''s what football is all about. You make about 70 plays and there is a chance for two or three to make a difference," Bradley said.
New Hope plays host to Amory on Friday, while Tupelo plays host to Itawamba AHS.