KIMBERLY—It was an ending you don’t often see but for Mortimer Jordan senior Daniel Franklin, it looked like a scenario he’d played and replayed countless times before. Only this time, he was awake and the cameras were rolling.
After a blocked 19-yard field goal by Clay-Central defensive back Michael Garrett, Franklin showed tremendous awareness to find the football as the Vols cleared the field in celebration, believing they just won a crucial Class 5A, Region 5 game. Franklin knew the whistle had not blown and that’s why he scooped the ball up as time expired and ran it seven yards for a touchdown, which gave eighth-ranked Mortimer Jordan a 32-27 win on Friday night in the My68 Game of the Week from Jimmie Trotter Stadium.
“Coach says to play until the whistle blows… that’s what I did,” said Franklin after the game.
A 2-yard touchdown run from Clay-Central quarterback Javon Wood gave the visitors a 27-26 lead with 2:02 remaining. Mortimer Jordan’s final drive started at its own 29-yard line and ended with the improbable score, but not before Kourtlan Marsh and Luke Parks found some rhythm.
That pair got things started with a 31-yard pitch and catch on the second play of the drive, and hooked up again following a roughing the passer penalty; this time on a 28-yard effort to the 2-yard line.
Clay-Central stuffed two inside runs at the goal line, forcing Marsh to put the ball in the air on third-and-goal from the 6. Marsh found Garrett Helm in the flats, but the connection came up two yards shy with a few seconds remaining on the game clock.
Junior kicker Ferram Sanchez was called upon to save the day, again. Sanchez connected on a short game-winner at Cullman in August, and looked ready to strike again before Garrett slipped through the line for a blocked kick.
The win puts Mortimer Jordan (6-1, 4-0) out front in the Region 5 standings with games against Munford, Springville and Moody (all of which have loosing records) remaining on the schedule.
Early on it looked like an easy day at the office for the Blue Devils, but it became anything but that.
Mortimer Jordan jumped out to a 14-0 lead with two long touchdown drives, and the Blue Devils appeared to be on their way to another runaway victory. However, the Vols (3-3, 3-1) came alive on a 49-yard touchdown run from Quentin Knight with 3:00 remaining in the first half. Knight started wide and cut upfield on third-and-1, breaking three tackles on his way to the end zone.
Moments later, Marsh floated a pass into traffic, resulting in a 35-yard pick-6 by Clay-Central senior Tyius Tatum. That catch and run evened the score at 14 with 1:52 reming in the half.
Clay-Central went into the break with momentum.
Some of that turned early in the third when Marsh broke loose down the right side and weaved back across the field for an impressive 50-yard touchdown run. Marsh’s legs were valued on Friday night, as they went for 120 yards and the score. He threw for another 85 yards and an interception.
The first-half lead came courtesy of two Franklin touchdown runs. He punctuated a 12-play drive with a 20-yard dart up the middle, giving the home team a 7-0 advantage. Mortimer Jordan converted four third downs on that drive, including three from Franklin.
He returned to the end zone in the second quarter on a 1-yard push, which converted a fourth-and-1 and extended the lead to 14-0. The senior finished with 43 yards rushing to go with three touchdowns, none bigger than the last.
Mortimer Jordan’s second 100-yard rusher was Garek Hall, who went for 110 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils visit Munford next Friday. Clay-Central also stays in region play with a visit from St. Clair County.