Ellis wins football rematch in OT

Published 10:21 am Thursday, November 8, 2018

South Davie’s offense did not light up the stat sheet against visiting Ellis on Oct. 24, but the way the Tigers’ defense was playing, it didn’t need to.

South dealt Ellis its first shutout loss in three years, 16-0.

The Tigers took an 8-0 halftime lead and added insurance in the second half while improving to 5-2 and avenging a 30-8 loss in 2017.

The touchdowns were Hayden Williams’ 21-yard pass to Amani Hall and RJ Jordan’s 4-yard run. Arturo Lazcana went 2 for 2 on two-point kicks.

Williams completed six passes for 71 yards. Markell Summers completed one pass for 18. Bryan Argueta (two catches for 43 yards), Justin White (2-16), Hall (1-12), Summers (1-6) and Jordan (1-3) had receptions. Jordan contributed 76 rushing yards on 15 carries.

The Jaguars, who were shut out for the first time since 26-0 to Lexington in 2015, sank to 0-4.


The gutty underdog, Ellis, got revenge in the rematch at Ellis on Nov. 1. Palmer Williams did all the scoring to lift the Jaguars to a hairbreadth win, 9-6, in overtime.

The Jaguars (1-4) had endured a lot to reach this one great hour. After going 13-2 over the previous two years, they lost 14-6 to North Davie, 40-20 to High Point Christian (Ellis held a 20-13 halftime lead), 22-14 to Forbush and 16-0 to South and were on the brink of the first winless season in the school’s 12-year history.

“If you look at our scores, we were in every game we played,” Ellis coach Danny Allard said. “It came down to one possession or one turnover. I’ve got to give the guys a lot of credit. They never gave up. They kept pressing. And to be able to win their last game is a testament to all the work they’ve been putting in since July.”

On the game’s first possession, Ellis’ William Purvis hit South like a bolt of lightning, sweeping around the end for 45 yards. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, quarterback Williams sneaked across the goal line to give Ellis a 6-0 lead.

Williams’ opportunity to convert a two-point kick was erased by a bad snap.

“After that, our defense picked it up,” South coach Antwoine Hairston said. “On that first drive I think that big play (by Purvis) kind of shocked us a little bit.”

A huge defensive play by Jordan turned the momentum. Williams mishandled the snap, throwing off the play’s timing. Jordan snatched the ball before Williams could hand it off and headed the other way, getting tackled at the Ellis 2 by Purvis.

“RJ ended up basically taking the handoff from our quarterback,” Allard said.

“(Jordan, who plays linebacker on defense) came on a stunt,” South assistant Kerwyn Wilson said. “As the quarterback was turning to hand it off, RJ just got there first.”

Williams completed a 3-yard fade pass to White to tie the score at 6-6. The conversion kick failed, and it was 6-6 at the half.

The defenses continued to dominate the second half, resulting in no points in the third and fourth quarters. Ellis’ D bent but never broke. Every time South’s offense began to gather steam, a Jaguar would come up with an interception. Ellis’ Bryson Parker caused all kinds of havoc with three picks. Danny Olmedo and Brody Smith, the late-game hero, had one each.

“South actually moved the ball pretty well,” Allard said. “South’s defense is tough. We didn’t move the ball much against them.”

“We had chunk plays, but they found a way to turn us over,” Hairston said.

The final horn of the fourth quater sounded with the score still 6-6.

Ellis got the ball first in overtime. Williams used two QB sneaks to move the ball from the South 10 to the 5.

“South adjusted their defense, so we tried to run a sweep,” Allard said.

It was blown up by the Tigers, a loss of 8 yards to the 13. It was fourth down. Allard called on the field goal unit. Even though Williams had not made a field goal in his two-year Ellis career, Allard figured his odds were better to go for three instead of attempting a pass.

“We’re not a passing team,” he said. “We can’t pass block very well. We run block decently. I thought if we can get points on the board and make them have to score, that was our best bet to win the game.”

Williams delivered an astonishing kick, drilling a 30-yard field goal to put Ellis ahead 9-6.

“I’ve got to go back to my North Davie days for the last time I saw somebody try to kick a field goal,” Allard said. “(The late) Ron Kirk would do that every once in a while. When we had Mark Huggins, we let him kick a couple. That’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen a middle school kicker make a field goal, especially of that length. And it was true. It probably would have been good from 45 yards.”

And then: “(Williams) has gone to a bunch of kicking camps. That’s really what he wants to be. He did a great job for us at quarterback, but what he really wants to be is a kicker, and I think he’s got a great future at that.”

Now it was South’s turn on offene from the Ellis 10. A run by Jordan went nowhere. A swing pass from Williams to Summers lost yardage. On third-and-14, Williams tried the fade pass that worked earlier. But Smith intercepted to clinch Ellis’ thrilling victory.

Defensive end Mick Mulkuski, tackle/linebacker Ethan Silvey and middle linebacker Parker rose to the occasion for Ellis.

“Nick played an excellent game,” Allard said. “He really stopped their sweeps. Ethan made a lot of plays. Bryson was all over the field. With his speed, he’s able to run down a lot of things that a lot of other middle school kids wouldn’t be able to run down.”

Williams affected the result in numerous ways, including punts that put South’s offense deep in its territory.

“Palmer hit great punts to put South inside their 20,” Allard said. “He did that at least three times.”

While Ellis played overtime for the first time ever, South went to OT for the first time since a 26-20 win at Lexington in 2015.

The Tigers got strong defensive efforts from outside linebacker Bryan Argueta, ends John Stokes and Aidan Froelich, and lineman Joey Nardone.

Hairston: “We had a whole lot of folks flying to the ball.”

Wilson: “It was just one of those days where the defenses were better than the offenses.”

The Tigers (5-3) posted their seventh straight winning season. They also absorbed their most losses in seven years.