FULTONDALE — Head coach Richie Busby sat in his office chair, half stunned and half exhausted — as well he should be.
He had just seen his ninth-ranked Fultondale team give up a victory on a last-minute touchdown by visiting American Christian quarterback Austin Mohlenbrok, and then watched as Khyree Robinson whizzed down the sidelines for 90 yards and a touchdown on the subsequent kickoff return — and then held his breath as the Wildcats intercepted a Mohlenbrok pass in the end zone on the last play to wrap up a 34-29 win Friday night.
It’s a victory that might not have turned out that way, if not for a little switcheroo that Busby pulled with Robinson and his other kick return man, Jared Stewart.
“They had been kicking to ‘J’ all night because Khyree had the big return last week, so I told them, ‘Khyree, when he [the kicker] starts to approach the ball, switch with Jared while the ball is in flight.’ He did, and took the ball 90 yards down the near sideline,” Busby said. “It wasn’t anything I did — just another unbelievable play by him, again.”
The Patriots did just what Busby expected coming into the game — long, ball-possession drives that take lots of time off the clock.
“My fear was them taking the ball for eight minutes at a time, and that’s just what they did,” he said. “We only took 43 snaps, but scored 34 points.”
With the Wildcats up 14-7 at halftime, Robinson had a simple message for his coach during the break. “He told me coming out of halftime to give him the ball — he wanted the ball,” Busby said. “He had a virus for two days... and he started getting sick in the fourth quarter again. But he said, ‘Coach, I’m fine, don’t take me out of the game.”
Robinson had put the Cats on top with seven seconds left in the third quarter on a 6-yard run. ACA responded with a 12-yard touchdown by Mohlenbrok, with a two-point conversion with just 59 seconds left in regulation time.
Fultondale opened the game with a touchdown pass from Kris Lewis to Kavin Wheeler for 31 yards, the Lewis took the ball himself for six yards and a score.
The Patriots answered with three straight touchdowns: a 15-yard pass from Mohlenbrok to Carter McGill with a minute left in the first half, a 28-yard Mohlenbrok run just 85 seconds after intermission, and a 4-yard pass to Caleb Squires.
Fultondale came back with a 1-yard scoring run by Stewart, followed three minutes later by Robinson’s first touchdown.
Robinson finished the night with 123 yards rushing on 13 carries, and 213 all-purpose yards. Lewis ran 10 times for 93 yards, and was 4-for-8 in passing for 50 yards. Anton Wheeler caught a 31-yard pass, while Stewart had two receptions for 17 yards.
Antwon McCary totaled 11 tackles with two sacks; John Cheney and Derrick Pollard had nine tackles each.
The undefeated Cats (5-0) travel to Pleasant Valley next week.