In a game that went back and forth all night, Long County and New Hampstead ended their contest on Friday in a 20-20 tie.
Playing in Pooler before a homecoming crowd New Hampstead began their second possession of the game at their own 20-yard line.
Mixed with runs, passes, and a big penalty called against Long County the Phoenix faced a fourth and goal situation at the Long County 1.
The New Hampstead runner hit the hole up the middle, and appeared to be stopped at the goal line. As the whistle blew to end the play, neither goal-line referee made a signal of a score. As the Long County bench and fans erupted, the officiating crew met together in the end zone. After a brief discussion the head official ruled that New Hampstead scored. With both benches looking confused, the Phoenix kicker booted the extra point, but it sailed wide making the score 6-0 New Hampstead.
On the ensuing kickoff the Blue Tide’s Deondrae Volcy returned the ball to his own 30-yard line. A host of Phoenix players hit Volcy causing him to cough up the ball.
The home team fell on the ball and were on the move again. On this drive New Hampstead’s Chris Scott rumbled in for a touchdown, and after a second failed conversion attempt the Phoenix were on top 12-0, which is what the score was a the half.
Long County got the ball first in the second half and began their drive near their own 30-yard line.
After driving down the field Volcy took a handoff from quarterback Tripp Stapleton and scampered in for a 23-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good making the score 12-6.
On the kickoff the Blue Tide surprised everyone by kicking an onside kick.
M’Kiyah Folston-Anderson fell on the ball giving Long County good field possession at their own 49.
After a big reception by Jamin Davis, Long County had the ball deep in New Hampstead territory. Stapleton handed the ball off to Volcy, and he ran in for a 29-yard touchdown. Stapleton booted the extra point through the uprights to put the Blue Tide on top 13-12.
After the kickoff the Phoenix took possession of the ball near midfield. With a late hit out of bounds penalty called on Long County, New Hampstead had a first down at the Blue Tide 13-yard line.
Unable to move the ball the Phoenix faced a fourth down needing eight yards for a first down.
The Blue Tide swarmed the runner causing him to fumble. A Long County defender bounced on the ball, but the Blue Tide could not take advantage of the possession turning the ball over on downs near midfield.
The Phoenix then drove to the Long County 38 and once again faced a fourth-and-1 situation.
As they have all year, the Blue Tide defense became a wall refusing to let New Hampstead get the first down. Long County got the ball back but fumbled on their next possession. The Phoenix drove down the field and Jeremiah Davis scored on a 4-yard touchdown run. Scott then punched in the 2-point conversion and New Hampstead were back up 20-13.
Both teams had to punt on their next offensive possessions, but Long County got the ball back at their own 48. With time becoming a factor Stapleton dropped back for a pass and found Tariq Carpenter open. The pass went between two Phoenix defenders, and Carpenter rumbled in for the 37-yard touchdown reception. Stapleton’s extra point kick was good and the game was all tied up 20-20.
After a deep kick by Long County with good coverage by the kicking team, the Phoenix started their final possession of the night at their own 19.
But once again the Long County defense made several big stands to back the Phoenix up. Facing a fourth-and-goal situation from the 18, New Hampstead decided to go for a winning 35-yard field goal. The kick sailed towards the goal but fell short leaving the game tied.
Long County got the ball back and moved down the field, but threw an interception as time expired.
With the game being a non-region contest the football ended with it being a 20-20 tie. Blue Tide head coach Eric McNair said that he was pleased with how his team fought back from being behind.
“We were down by two scores, but we rallied back to take the lead, we also were able to shut them down right there at the end of the game inside the red-zone, so I’m really proud of the team”, said McNair.
McNair also said he was pleased with his offense, but said it still needs to reduce its mistakes.
“We ran the ball more effectively than we have all year, but we still have got to eliminate our turnovers and be more efficient on third down”, said McNair.
McNair also praised his defense saying they were put in difficult positions for much of the night.
“Our defense was put in some difficult positions for a lot of the game, but even when they were with their backs against the wall they stepped up and did what they had to, to stop their drives”, said McNair.
With the tie Long County’s record is now 1-1-1, while New Hampstead sits at 1-3-1. Next Friday the Blue Tide will be back in the friendly confines of Ludowici as they take on Bradwell Institute (1-2) in their Homecoming game. Pick up a Wednesday paper for a preview of the game.