Phoenix earn gutsy, come­back win in home opener

Sono­rav­ille ral­lies from half­time deficit thanks to big plays from de­fense, spe­cial teams

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY - By Alex Far­rer

The Sono­rav­ille Phoenix were look­ing for Fri­day night to be a grand open­ing as they played in their home con­fines for the first time in 2017 while also de­but­ing their brand new video score­board. And a gutsy, come­back win al­lowed them to do just that.

Af­ter Cass raced out to a 13-0 lead in the first quar­ter, the Phoenix buck­led down and ral­lied for a 14-13 win at The Fur­nace thanks to some big plays from their de­fense and spe­cial teams.

Sono­rav­ille (1-1) came out in the third quar­ter trail­ing 13-0, and while their of­fense sput­tered, the de­fense picked up the slack to force multi- ple three-and-outs. Need­ing a mo­men­tum-chang­ing play, the Phoenix blocked a punt mid­way through the third and re­cov­ered the ball to set up shop near the Cass 25.

A few plays later, Sono­rav­ille quar­ter­back Pa­trick Moore cashed in on the turnover, find­ing a hole and run­ning into the end zone on six-yard touch­down run on third down to make it 13-7.

On the next of­fen­sive pos­ses­sion, Cass ( 0- 2) mis­han­dled a shot­gun snap, and Sono­rav­ille’s Chan­dler Shaw scooped up the fum­ble and ran it back 32 yards to give the Phoenix a 14-13 lead fol­low­ing Daw­son Hol­brook’s sec­ond ex­tra point of the night. The de­fense then made the score hold up from there, com­ing up with sev­eral stops and two turnovers. Blade Bryant had an in­ter- cep­tion early in the fourth quar­ter, and Shaw came up with an­other big play in the final min­utes, haul­ing in an in­ter­cep­tion to seal the game.

“We kept it close there when we weren’t re­ally play­ing well on ei­ther side of the ball in the first half…keep­ing it within two scores,” said Sono­rav­ille coach Den­ver Pate. “And in the sec­ond half, the de­fense came out and played their tails off. They car­ried us. I can’t say enough about Chan­dler Shaw. He’s a kid that is get­ting over a knee in­jury, and this is re­ally only his sec­ond week back. He came up with two huge plays for us tonight.

“It’s al­ways good to be 2-0. And it’s good to get down in a game and see how the kids re­spond. We have a lot of kids play­ing that don’t have a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence so to get them bat­tle-tested like this is re­ally good early in the sea­son.”

The Sono­rav­ille of­fense was held in check for most of the night by a swarm­ing Cass de­fense. The Phoenix had less than 100 to­tal yards for the game, but their de­fense did more than pick up the slack.

Cass started the game with a long, clock- churn­ing drive that lasted more than half the first quar­ter and in­cluded multiple third­down con­ver­sions and a fourth- down con­ver­sion. It was even­tu­ally punc­tu­ated with a 14-yard touch­down con­nec­tion between quar­ter­back Rett Moore and Ma­lik Grimes to make it 6-0 with 5:02 re­main­ing in the open­ing quar­ter. (The ex­tra point missed off the up­right.)

Af­ter the Cass de­fense got a stop on Sono­rav­ille’s first pos­ses­sion of the game, the Colonels took a quicker ap­proach to their next drive, as run­ning back Thomas Gil­liam out-sprinted the Phoenix de­fense for a 60-yard touch­down run to make it 13-0 af­ter the PAT.

Both de­fenses dug in from there to keep each other out of the end zone and make the score 13-0 in fa­vor of the Colonels at the half­time break. Sono­rav­ille’s of­fense had plenty of trou­ble get­ting go­ing in the first two quar­ters as they could only mus- ter 12 to­tal yards.

“We had some trou­ble with our fits on de­fense on the first two drives, but af­ter that, Coach (Ricky) Ross and the de­fen­sive staff made some ad­just­ments and got things squared away,” said Pate. “We were able to get peo­ple swarm­ing to the ball and run­ning side to side rather than north and south.”

Sono­rav­ille is back on the road next Fri­day for an­other stiff non-re­gion when they travel to play Dal­ton at Har­mon Field.

LARRY GREESON / For the Cal­houn Times

Sono­rav­ille’s Pa­trick Moore (cen­ter) tries to break the tackle of two Cass de­fend­ers in the first half on Fri­day.

LARRY GREESON / For the Cal­houn Times

Sono­rav­ille’s Blade Bryant (7) and Colton Richards (26) look to bring down Cass’ Thomas Gil­liam dur­ing the first quar­ter.

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