Trojans defeat Lions for HomecomingBy JOSHUA SEABROOK,
Friday night, the Trojan faithful were honored with the presence of royalty as the Homecoming court was on full display. The football and class maids were dressed in full regalia as they prepared for the night many high school girls dream of. The biggest question lingering over the Homecoming proceedings is who would take the crown as Magee's 2018 Homecoming queen. Many young women were very deserving of the honor as the moment built up to the crowning ceremony. The crowd erupted in joy and jubilation as Aaliyah Walker was announced as the 2018 Magee Homecoming queen.
As for the football game, the fans were treated with a spectacular showing by the home standing Trojans. Magee's offense was as efficient as they have been all year as they seemingly could do as they wished with the porous Lion defense. Magee's defense had yet another stellar performance as they held a Raleigh team that had picked up some offensive steam in recent weeks to a mere 18 points.
Raleigh started the game appearing as if they would hang around a while in the contest, as Margo Perkins found a seam up the middle to take it the distance for an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make the score 6-0 after a failed PAT just seconds into the game. The Trojans found themselves in an early hole before the fans could even get comfortable in their seats. Magee senior quarterback Javo Thurman and crew did not panic. The opening Trojan possession featured a mix of run and pass plays that showed that the team was set on maintaining offensive balance. Ross McInnis toted the ball a handful of times on the drive for nearly 30-yards. Thurman tallied nearly 30-yards passing on the drive as he connected with Xavier Franks for 18 and Matthew Thurman for the drive finishing 15-yard touchdown pass on a well executed post route to make the score 7-6 early in the first. The ensuing kickoff further swung Uncle Mo (momentum) in the favor of the Trojans as the Sam Rials kick was dropped by the Lions and recovered deep in Raleigh territory by Magee. Thurman and the offense wasted little time capitalizing on the turnover. Thurman found Josh Sanders for 6 on a screen to set up 4th and 7 after backing up on penalties and going nowhere on the first two plays of the drive. The Trojans kept the offense on the field as Coach Dyess decided to roll the dice early in the game. Thurman showed great poise on the 4th down attempt as he stood tall in the pocket and found Chandler Pittman for a 14-yard gain to give the team a first down. The Thurman-Franks connection was revisited with a 10-yard strike down to the Raleigh 1-yard line. McInnis did the honors of bursting into the endzone from 1-yard out to increase the lead to 14-6 for the Trojans.
Raleigh received a little assistance from Magee on the following kickoff as a Magee player ran into the Lion return man as he called for a fair catch to move the ball from the spot of the catch at the 35 to midfield, where Raleigh went to work looking to even the score. CP2 had other ideas as he recovered nicely on a deep pass, after being turned around, to rip the ball from the hands of the intended receiver and scamper 82 yards to the house. However, there was some laundry on the field back near the initial spot of the interception. The call of block in the back on the return negated the touchdown, but not the interception, thus giving the Trojans the ball on their own 20. Magee's offense continued to keep the pressure on Raleigh as they began marching down the field. McInnis burst through the line and into the Lions’ secondary for a 13-yard gain to move the ball near midfield. From there, J. Thurman would find M. Thurman and Franks for 6 and 15-yard passes respectfully on back-to-back completions. McInnis barreled ahead for 15 more yards to take the Trojans inside the Raleigh redzone. Thurman took a shot to the endzone for the speedy Sanders out of the slot, but the connection was denied thanks to pass interference by the Lion secondary to move the ball to the 6. After a 5-yard screen to CP2, McInnis would again finish the drive with a 1-yard touchdown followed by a failed PAT to run the lead to 20-6 for the Trojans at the end of the first quarter of play.
Magee took over at midfield after another Raleigh error put the Trojans again in plus field territory. The Thurman & Thurman connection was strong once again as M. Thurman pulled ofs an Odell Beckham like one-handed grab for 30 to move Magee inside the Raleigh redzone yet again. CP2 finished the drive with a 6-yard touchdown off a jet sweep followed by a failed 2-pt conversion to make the score 26-6 Magee's way early in the second quarter. After exchanging punts, the Lions resumed control of the ball at their own 35 looking to find some success on offense before the half's end. It had been tough sledding to this point for the Raleigh offense as the Trojans had proved a tough test for the Lions triple option attack. For the first time on the night, the option gained some traction as Raleigh churned out a 30+ yard run to find the Trojan side of the field for one of the first times on the night offensively. Senior RB for the Lions Braxton Burkett took an inside handoff for 18-yards around the weak side of the Trojan defense to the 12 of Magee. Perkins scored his second touchdown of the night, this time through the air from 10 yards out to make the score 26-12 at the half.
After the conclusion of the Homecoming proceedings, the Trojans continued their offensive hot streak. An errant second half kickoff appeared to have glanced off the side of the Lion kicker's foot as it went out of bounds at midfield. Magee once again capitalized on a Raleigh mistake to put up 6. McInnis made his impression on the drive, as well as a few Lion defenders’ bodies, as he pounded out a punishing run down to the Raleigh 26. McInnis bludgeoned ahead to the Lion 10, where J. Thurman would scamper in for a touchdown to run the score to 32-12 for the Trojans. The Lions continued to snooze on the plains as the offense struggled to find success against the Magee defense. After suffering a loss on a 1st down sack, McInnis bulldozed ahead for 25 to the Raleigh 30. After a 5-yard completion to Sanders and a incomplete fade pass to the endzone intended for Franks, Thurman showed great poise and running ability yet again as he rushed for 10 on 4th and 7 to set the Trojans up near the Lion redzone. CP2 took a speed option pitch from Thurman around the right side down for 6-yards, but the ball was brought back to the 20 after a holding call on the Trojans. McInnis again showed little remorse for the Lion defense as he ran over a few of the Cats for 15 to set up 3rd and 4 for the Trojans. Unfortunately, the attempted lateral pass from Thurman to Franks went out of bounds at the 21 forcing a 38-yard Rials field goal attempt that was hammered home by the talented kicker to push the lead to 35-12 for the Trojans.
The Lions continued to fight as Perkins made his presence known yet again as he torched the Magee secondary for a 65-yard touchdown reception as the man in coverage slipped on the soggy playing surface. With the Magee lead down to 35-18, the Trojans looked to answer the Lions’ score and put the game away for good and that is what they did on the ensuing drive. Cayden Bridges set Magee up with fantastic starting field position at the 50 after a good return. Thurman continued his strong passing performance as he connected with Sanders again for a 20-yard strike. CP2 showed he is not just a speed back as he plowed over a much larger Raleigh defender in route to a 6-yard run. McInnis continued to abuse Lion defenders as he bumbled ahead to the Raleigh 15. Magee rolled out the Trojan horse to finish the drive as the offense showed some trickery for the score. Thurman was flanked by Pittman in the backfield before sprinting out to set up trips on the short side of the field. Pittman took the direct snap and fired a backwards pass to Thurman who then slung a 15-yard pass off a Raleigh defenders shoulder pad into the waiting arms of Sanders for a spectacular score to make the lead 42-18. That score would hold to be the final as the Trojans capped off homecoming in style.
After the game, a very positive Coach Dyess praised the performance of his team on the night. "Offensively we were really clicking, running, throwing, blocking, the whole nine yards," stated Dyess, "defensively we've got to get a little more grit about us. We weren't lined up correctly at times, we missed some stuff in the secondary, not really happy with our defensive play overall, we have a lot of stuff to clean up, but were going to clean it up."
The win puts the Trojans back in the driver’s seat as they push towards the playoffs in the second spot in the division behind the Falcons of Velma Jackson, who downed the Trojans in a thriller last week. The scenario that faces Magee now is win out and host the first round. Win out and a Falcons’ loss by greater than 4 points against a common opponent the Trojans beat by more than 4 points to erase the point differential the Falcons hold on Magee, and the Trojans claim the #1 seed. While that may temporarily be a bit of a pipe dream, Magee will continue to show up and face each opponent ahead of them with the goals of becoming 1 percent better every week and doing their part of the job, which is beating the team in front of them and control what they can control and the rest fall as it may.
The Trojans travel to face the 5-3 Saints of St. Andrew's Episcopal this Friday night as they look to move to 2-1 in district play.