CORNER—Junior defensive back Cameron Blalock didn’t get many opportunities to play the ball in the air on Friday night, but he certainly took advantage when called upon.
In a game that saw Hayden quarterback Silas Miller attempt only nine passes (eight of them on the final drive of the night) against Corner, Blalock put the final touches on a 19-17 Yellow Jackets win with a toe-taping interception in the final seconds at Corner Stadium. The junior pulled down a deep shot to the back line of the end zone to turn away Hayden’s comeback efforts.
The interception and the touchback turned the ball over to the home team at their own 20-yard line with less than a minute remaining on the clock. Corner quarterback Colin Daniel took a snap out of the victory formation for the Class 5A, Region 7 win.
The go-ahead field goal split the uprights moments earlier when Corner senior Lane Gilchrist connected on his second of the night. The lefty capped a 14-play drive with a 32-yarder that put the Jackets on top 19-17 with 1:21 left on the fourth-quarter clock.
Lane GilchristFor. The. Lead. Corner 19, Hayden 17 | 1:21 4Q. pic.twitter.com/Z81jyNNnNV— Erik Harris (@jeharris2) October 12, 2019
Corner head coach Jon Clements believes Gilchrist’s last-second blast at the end of the first half served as the turning point for his team. Back-to-back completions from Daniel to Chandler Brakefield (11 yards) and Cole Fuller (12 yards) put Gilchrist in range with five seconds remain in the second quarter. After two Hayden timeouts, Gilchrist connected on a 45-yard attempt to cut the deficit to 14-10 at intermission.
“Right before halftime, Lane makes a big field goal—complete momentum shift,” said Clements. “I’m so glad Lane Gilcrest is on our team. He does not get enough credit. I will go to war with that kid every day of the week because he’s the best kicker in the state and I’m glad he’s on our team.”
Oomph 👊🏼Lane Gilchrist from 45 yards out! pic.twitter.com/MYcvF6pFtS— Erik Harris (@jeharris2) October 12, 2019
“I kind of just get over by myself and get my head right and go through everything I know I’m going to do on the field,” said Gilchrist of his pre-kick routine.
When Corner was not lining up for field goals, they were handing the ball to senior running back Brody Tavel, who ran for 136 yards and a score on 25 carries. He broke free for a 24-yard touchdown on the first possession of the second half to claim a 16-14 advantage.
Hayden would later answer early in the fourth quarter thanks to a 40-yard field goal from Jacob Dowd, who put the Wildcats out front 17-16 with 8:16 remaining. That sequence set the table for Corner’s long, go-ahead drive.
The Yellow Jackets got started early, as Brakefield returned a punt to the Hayden 24-yard line and set the scene for the first score of the game. Corner covered the 24 yards on six plays, the last of which saw Joshua Myrick convert a fourth-and-goal from the 1 with a dart up the middle.
Daniel went 9 of 16 through the air for 81 yards.
He and the Yellow Jackets (4-3, 2-3 Class 5A, Region 7) remain in league play next week with a trip to West Point. Hayden (2-6, 1-4 Class 5A, Region 7) will host Dora.
“Keith Register, in my opinion, is the best coach in our region and I’ve said that to anybody and everybody that wants to listen, because he takes guys and makes them think and play better than they probably really are, and that’s just a sentiment to him. They’re tough, they do it the right way, they’re well-coached.”