With less than a minute left, the Bradwell Tigers were forced to spike the ball three times to stop the clock and managed to move the ball 45 yards. But when the buzzer sounded, it was Johnson High that was celebrating.
The Atomsmashers held on for a 27-20 victory Friday at Olvey Field, improving to 2-0 in Region 3-AAAAA.
The Tigers’ misfortune started when they elected to receive the kickoff to open the game. They dropped the ball and Johnson recovered at midfield.
The Atomsmashers had their own misfortunes, however, driving the ball to the Tigers’ 15, then coughing up the ball to the BI squad.
Bradwell was unable to capitalize, so punter Kris Lewis soon was on the field. After a good return, the Johnson squad started at its own 46-yard line. Atomsmashers quarterback Shyheim Roberts handed the ball to running back Juan Perez. He cracked through the middle for a 41-yard run. Perez then brought the team to the 2-yard line before the Atomsmashers were penalized and moved back.
The Tigers stopped the run three times, but Roberts tossed a 5-yard pass to the corner of the end zone, hitting D’Yone Sanders for the first score. However, Johnson missed the extra point.
On the ensuing kick, Bradwell’s Markell McKee had a 55-yard return, and the home team was at the Atomsmashers’ 25-yard line.
Tigers running back Quonte Haggray had carries of 19, 8 and 3 yards and scored Bradwell’s first touchdown. Robert Miller kicked the extra point, and the BI team led by one.
“In the three previous games, we threw the ball 59 times and only completed 20,” Tigers coach Jim Walsh said. “Even though we are making attempts to throw the ball, we have not been very successful. We knew we would have to run the ball. We’ve had a lot of success running the ball.”
Johnson’s Corbin Mitchell had a 27-yard kick return, and Robert hit Matthew Hodge for a 20-yard pass, but a penalty and tackles for losses set up a fourth-and-short. The Tigers took over the ball when Khalil Harris broke up a pass.
Bradwell quarterback Myrese Cobb handed the ball to DeAndre Day, who ran for a 44-yard gain. This set up a 26-yard touchdown pass from Cobb to McKee as the Tigers took a 14-6 lead.
On the ensuing kick return, the Atomsmashers ran the reverse and the offense started at midfield.
Roberts then connected to Sanders, and the Atomsmashers were at the 3-yard line. This set up a touchdown run by Roberts. Johnson went for the 2-point conversion to tie the game, 14-14, at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Tigers’ defense came out and stopped the Atomsmashers’ first offensive drive.
The Tigers’ offense took over and drew a 15-yard facemask penalty, placing Bradwell inside Jonson’s 21-yard line.
This set up a 17-yard touchdown run by Marsalis Jackson, but it was called back for holding.
Despite being pushed back, Cobb connected with Jackson again, and this time the touchdown counted. Miller’s extra point was wide right, but the Tigers regained the lead, 20-14.
The Atomsmashers’ offense managed to run time off the clock thanks to the running game of Mitchell, Roberts and Perez. On two separate occasions, the visiting team was faced with fourth-and-long. Sanders caught a short pass and Roberts’ footwork did the rest.
The Atomsmashers’ quarterback eventually broke open a 35-yard touchdown run that gave Johnson a 21-20 lead.
“We had a lot of missed tackles, not being in position to make the plays,” Walsh said. “They were getting after them pretty good, but we just missed a lot of tackles. We have to get better at it.”
At the two-minute mark, the visitors marched back into the red zone, and Roberts plowed through the middle for a 1-yard touchdown. The kick was wide right, but the Tigers trailed, 27-20, with 1:17 remaining.
The hurry-up offense was tested. Bradwell’s Cobb completed 2 of 4 passes, spiked the ball twice to stop the clock and made it to the Atomsmashers’ 35-yard line with 3.2 seconds left on the clock. This set up the Hail Mary, but it was incomplete and the clock ran out.
The Tigers fall to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in Region 3-AAAA. Johnson is 2-2 overall, 2-0 in the region and in second behind Camden.
“I think this team still has an opportunity to do well. We just have to stop competing against ourselves and compete against other teams,” Walsh said.