Magee loses to Columbia, 14-24By JOSHUA SEABROOK,
The Magee Trojans and Columbia Wildcats squared off as the Trojans celebrated Senior Night for the Class of 2019 at the final home game for this group of seniors, as the team enters the playoffs as the #4 seed with a full slate of road games ahead.
Prior to the game, Magee honored the senior football players, cheerleaders, band, and color guard members who have dedicated so much time and effort over the years as members of the Trojans.
The game started with Josh Sanders, who was playing his final home game as a Trojan, fielding the opening kickoff and returning it to the Magee 41. The Trojans were unable to gain traction after a bobbled snap on the first play of the drive backed them up 5-yards and short passes on 2nd and 3rd ended the first drive of the game with a punt to the Columbia 36. The Wildcats took over at their own 36 and began displaying their pair of talented running backs. Early in the drive, it was Kentrel Bullock who was the feature back. Bullock opened the drive with a 4-yard run, followed by a loss of 1-yard after being rudely greeted by Jody Durr in the backfield. The Trojans had the Cats where they wanted them in 3rd and 7 but jumped offside before the snap to give Columbia 5-yards to make the 3rd down try much easier. Bullock was met by a host of Magee defenders at the line but was able to churn out just enough yardage to move the chains after an official measurement. The Wildcats changed up the pace in the backfield, bringing in sophomore running back Omar Johnson to carry the load for a while. Johnson took his first carry around the outside for 6-yards after the Magee defensive line forced him to bounce the run toward the sideline. Johnson continued to introduce himself to the Trojan defense, though, marching off a 14-yard run to pick up another Wildcat first down. After runs for 3 and 8-yards, Johnson was replaced by Bullock in the backfield after catching a breather. Bullock picked up 3 yards before being eaten up by Zyrus Craft on a 2nd down run that gained 2 yards. Columbia attempted a reverse as Javen Moses pitched the ball to Bullock, who handed it to Josh Brown. Luckily for Magee, Josh Sanders and Jody Durr sniffed out the play from the start and maintained the edge on the reverse side, as they awaited Brown on the back side for a loss. The Wildcats decided to go for it on 4th and 4, due to the apparent lack of a kicking game as the team never attempted a PAT on the night. Moses dropped back and fired a shot to Brown, who appeared to be down shy of the goal line but apparently got the ball across for the touchdown to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead after a failed 2-pt. conversion with 2:43 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, the Trojans took over at their own 20, after the kickoff took a Columbia bounce, Matthew Thurman wisely not fielding it, and rolled nearly 25-yards into the endzone. After a 2-yard run from Jawon Shaw, QB Chandler Pittman was flushed out of the pocket and forced to roll towards the Magee sidelines, keeping his eyes downfield. Pittman pointed to Xavier Franks and motioned for him to release long down the field to attempt to lose his defenders. Pittman fired against his body as he was near the Magee sidelines deep towards Franks. For a second, it appeared Franks had his two defenders bested and would be able to make the reception. Unfortunately, Tryson Johnson came flying in out of nowhere to pick off the ball and tap his toes in bounds to complete the interception to bring the Trojan drive to a premature halt. The Wildcats returned to the field with a 6-0 lead and the ball just on the Magee side of the 50. Bullock got the drive started with a 3-yard run that ended with "Big Z" and Kendarious "KD" Dampeer making the stop. Bullock continued to persevere with a 6-yard run followed by a 15-yard run after breaking a tackle near the line of scrimmage to make his way to the Magee 25. After a 2-yard run by Bullock, Johnson reentered the game as the feature back and was promptly greeted by Cayden Bridges, who dropped Johnson for no gain on the play. After a short run by Johnson, Bullock returned to pick up 7-yards and a new set of downs as Johnson again returned to finish the drive. Johnson picked up 3-yards on 1st down before breaking away for a 16-yard touchdown and failed 2-pt. conversion to give the Wildcats a 12-0 lead with 9:39 remaining in the 2nd quarter.
Down two scores and needing a spark, Thurman fielded the ensuing kickoff and returned it to the Columbia 49 to give Magee excellent starting field position. Shaw started the drive with a 2-yard run, followed by an incomplete pass intended for Franks, setting up 3rd and long. Pittman connected with Bridges on a slant that netted 9-yards to pick up a 1st down for the Trojans. Pittman returned to the air as he hit Thurman on a short out route for 3-yards. Shaw then broke off a long run for 15-yards to move down to the Wildcat 15. After a short pass to Franks for 3-yards, Shaw moved the ball down to the Columbia 3 to give the Trojans 1st and goal. After being stopped just a foot short on 1st and goal, Pittman thrust the ball across the goal line for a touchdown to cut the deficit to a one possession game with the score now 12-7 Columbia with 5:17 remaining until the half.
After forcing the Wildcats into a rare three-and-out, the Trojans took over at their own 46 with enough time to mount a drive. Pittman took off for 9-yards on the opening play of the drive, but the run was negated due to an illegal chip called on the Magee line. Shaw made up the penalty yardage and then some as he burst through the line for a 10-yard gain. Pittman picked up the 1st with a 8-yard run, as the Trojans moved deeper into Wildcat territory. Pittman then hit Franks for a 5-yard gain before an incomplete pass intended for Bridges that earned a defensive pass interference penalty to give Magee the ball at the Columbia 22. The drive stalled after a 1-yard Shaw run was followed by back-to-back incompletions to force Magee to trot out Sam Rials for a 38-yard field goal attempt. As the snap was handled and held by Thomas Dyess and drilled by Rials, Jaheim Oatis broke through the line with a herd of defenders to block the attempt. Columbia went on to run out the clock for the half and take a 12-7 lead into the break.
With a 5-point lead, the Wildcats opened the 2nd half with the ball at their own 40 after a solid return. Johnson took the opening carry of the drive down to the Magee 29 after displaying his elusiveness and speed on the 31-yard run. Johnson again gashed the Magee defense, turning in an 11-yard run to move the chains yet again. Johnson continued to move the ball for the Wildcats as he picked up 5 and 6-yards to move the ball inside the Trojans 5. Johnson capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run followed by an unsuccessful 2-pt. conversion to push the lead to 18-7 with 10:32 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Down two scores, Magee looked to respond in order to stay in the ballgame. Sanders provided a spark as he took the kickoff down to the Columbia 45. Pittman then connected with Thurman on a quick screen that saw the speedy receiver turn on the jets for a big gain down to the Wildcat 13. Columbia then gifted Magee 5-yards with an offside penalty as the Trojans looked primed to respond. After an incomplete pass to Franks, a personal foul on Jordan Magee, who was accused of throwing a punch despite appearing to be simply pushing his defender with an open hand as he attempted to finish his block, ended with Magee being disqualified for the remainder of the game and the first half of the next game. The Trojans now faced 2nd and 20. Pittman picked up 5-yards on a run before connecting with Bridges for 7-yards to set up 4th and 2. Pittman dialed his own number on 4th down with a quarterback sweep that picked up 4-yards to move the chains. The drive again stalled and the Trojans were forced to call on Rials for a 25-yard field goal attempt. This time, the snap was high and Dyess managed to pull it down and roll out far enough to connect with a receiver for a short gain that fell short of the endzone, forcing Magee to turn it over on downs.
Columbia took over at their own 7 with Johnson in the backfield behind Moses. Johnson took the first carry of the drive 27 yards to the Wildcat 34. Johnson then picked up 4 yards before Bullock reentered the game. Bullock turned in runs for 5 and 3 yards before taking a big hit that ended the evening for the senior running back. Johnson returned to the game and picked up 4-yards with a 15-yard personal foul facemask tacked on to the end of the run. After runs for 3 and 4 yards, Johnson broke off a long run around the left side that ended just shy of the goal line. On the next play, Johnson finished off the drive with a 1-yard run for the touchdown followed by another unsuccessful 2-pt conversion to give Columbia a 24-7 lead with 3:25 remaining in the 3rd. After a return by Bridges to the 50, Pittman's pass intended for Bridges was jumped by Tryson Johnson to end the drive. Luckily for the Trojans, Steven Durr answered the Columbia turnover with one of his own, after stopping Omar Johnson for a short gain, forcing and recovering the fumble to give Magee the ball back at the Wildcat 42. Shaw then turned in runs of 5 and 10-yards to move to the Columbia 15. Pittman then overshot Franks before a 3-yard Shaw run ended with a fumble recovered by the Wildcats at their own 15. The Magee defense forced a three-and-out to give the Trojans the ball at midfield. After a short pass to Thurman turned into a 13-yard gain, Shaw was stopped for no gain and Bridges was overthrown in the endzone to set up 3rd and 10. Pittman then showed why he is known as "Da Mayor" and why the Ole Miss Rebels wanted him so badly as he turned in one of the most improbable touchdowns this reporter has ever seen. Pittman started with the ball at the 40 and initially appeared to be stopped after picking up 15-yards. Pittman spun through the arms of several would be tacklers as he broke away for 10 more yards and appeared to hit a wall at the 15. Pittman again hit a spin move that left several defenders confused and was met by two defenders at the goal line that he managed to evade to finish off the impressive, will-powered 40-yard touchdown run to trim the lead to 24-14 early in the 4th. Pittman appeared to have suffered what was originally feared to have been a concussion on the play but was later confirmed not to have been a concussion, but it kept the quarterback out for the remainder of the game. Matthew Thurman finished the game for the Trojans at quarterback, but was unable to mount another scoring drive as the game ended with a final of 24-14.
After the game, Coach Teddy Dyess spoke of how impressed he was with his team’s grit and tenacity on the night despite the loss, "We played our butts off, most physical we've been all year. Columbia hadn't been tested like that many times and we stood in and fought them tonight. We're a turnover here and a not scoring there away from beating them so, hey I'll take that shot every time." As previously stated, Pittman was ruled not to have a concussion on the play that ended his night and Coach Dyess echoed the quarterback's readiness for the playoffs, "He's fine, no ringing in the head or anything like that, so I think he's fine."
Despite the meteoric start to the season, Magee finished the season losing three of the last four to put them as the #4 seed in the loaded district. The Trojans open the playoffs with a repeat date with the opponent from their season opener as they travel to play Jefferson County in the first round of the 3A playoffs.