"A great team finds a way to win, even when they don't play their best."
This was the opening message from Coach Teddy Dyess to his Magee Trojans following a 26-14 victory of the Tigers of Collins. For the first two weeks of the season, the Trojans had cruised against teams with less talent than their own. This week against Collins, the talent gap may have still been large, but the feistiness of the Tigers kept the game close as Magee struggled to get out of their own way for much of the night. In the end, the Trojans managed to march past a gutsy Collins team after pulling away late in the game.
The first quarter was marred with turnovers from both teams, as the first three drives of the ballgame ended with turnovers. Collins was forced to change up their game plan and bring in Ken'Dariun Magee to play quarterback after starter Hersey McLaurin was injured intercepting a pass from Chandler Pittman.
Starting the second quarter, Magee drew first blood after a quick three play drive ended with a pass from "Da Mayor" Pittman to Xavier "X-Man" Franks for a 75-yard touchdown, followed by a muffed hold on the PAT to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead with 11:18 remaining until halftime. The Tigers started the ensuing drive at their own 34 and quickly moved to the 45 for a first down after several short runs from Magee and Emmanuel Lockhart. Antonio Spencer toted the ball across the 50 onto the Trojans' side of the field to set Collins up at the Magee 40. The drive appeared to be stalled out just inside the Trojans' 30, as the Tigers set up for a 4th and 7 looking to answer Magee's score with one of their own. Magee had mostly been used as a running threat behind center and distributed the ball on handoffs to Lockhart and Spencer or opting to keep it himself thus far. On 4th and 7, Magee channeled his inner Tim Tebow faking the quarterback keeper and tossing a jump pass over the line to Lee Zimmerman for a 19-yard touchdown to tie the game 6-6 with 7:41 until the half.
The Trojans took the kickoff down to their own 35, looking to regain the lead prior to intermission. Cayden Bridges got things started with a 15-yard carry on a jet sweep to put Magee at midfield. Pittman then dropped back looking to pass, but protection broke down forcing the speedy quarterback to improvise as he scurried around the edge for a handful of yards. Jawon Shaw looked like his uncle, Harold Shaw, as he chugged ahead to the 21 of Collins to give the Trojans 1st and 10 just outside the Tigers' redzone. On the next play, Pittman dropped a dime into the hands of the usually sure handed Franks for what would have been an easy touchdown, but fell off the fingertips of Franks. Protection broke down again, as Pittman was forced to extend the play, keeping his eyes downfield to connect with Josh Sanders to move the chains for another Magee first down.
The offense stalled out just inside of the Tiger's 10, and Sam Rials trotted in for a field goal that is just a few yards longer than an extra point. Rials was given little chance on the kick as the holder presented Rials with the laces of the ball and was unable to correct the hold as Collins crashed through the left side of the line forcing Rials to pull the kick wide, leaving the drive empty of points.
The teams went into halftime, locked in a 6-6 defensive battle with the game up in the air on who would take control in the second half.
After struggling offensively in the first half, "Da Mayor" Pittman showed in the second half how he's earned that distinctive nickname. Collins took the second half kickoff to their own 30, before a block in the back moved the ball to the 15. Jody Durr continued his stellar play to begin the season as he tackled Lockhart for a loss, just one of Durr's six TFL (tackles for loss) on the night. The Trojans stopped the Tigers on 4th and 6 to take over inside the Collins 10 after a bad snap led to a failed punt attempt. Shaw got the drive started with a run down to the Tiger 5. "Da Mayor" finished the drive with a touchdown on a quarterback sweep, followed by Shaw punching in the 2 point conversion to give Magee a 14-6 lead with 8:35 remaining in the third.
Collins looked to answer as Magee and Spencer moved teamed up to get the ball to midfield. Daryious Collins stuffed the Spencer carry on 2nd and 4 to force the Tigers into 3rd and 6. Matthew Thurman, who is known for his impact offensively, made his presence known with a sack and strip of Magee, who managed to recover the ball to set up 4th and long. The Trojans held the Tigers again on fourth to take over at midfield.
Magee looked to keep momentum on their side as Pittman dropped back and connected with Franks for 11 to get the drive going. After an offside penalty moved the Trojans back to the 50, Pittman attempted to fit a pass into tight coverage where he found his counterpart, Magee, who picked the Pittman pass and returned it 60-yards for a touchdown to tie the score 14-14.
This was the first time thus far in the season the Trojans found themselves in a close ballgame in the second half. The first two weeks of the season, the games were arguably decided by the half and Magee was able to coast in both second halves. In steps "Da Mayor" to remind Collins just how explosive the Trojan offense can be. On the following drive, Pittman took control as he took the ball to the house for a 50-yard touchdown, leaving several Tigers' ankles stuck in the grass on his trek to pay dirt to give Magee a 20-14 lead. Collins looked to respond, but the Magee defense was playing with their hair on fire. Lockhart took a sweep around the outside where Janorris Newsome shed his blocker to drag down the Collins ball carrier for a loss to start the drive. Magee plowed ahead for seven on a quarterback keeper to set up 3rd and 3 at the Tigers' 27. Zyrus Craft and Steven Durr teamed up to stop Jason Thompson Jr. for a 2-yard loss setting up 4th and 5. Lockhart found room on fourth down around the corner, but stepped out of bounds a yard shy of the first down marker to give the Trojans the ball back on downs. On the first play of the ensuing drive, "Da Mayor" struck again, this time for 38-yards on a nasty touchdown run that left several Collins defenders grasping at thin air.
With the lead now at 26-14, the Trojan defense cranked up the pressure on Magee, forcing the Collins quarterback to be very uncomfortable. The Trojans defense, led by Cameron Sullivan (19 tackles on the night) and Jody Durr (14 tackles, 6 TFL, and 3 sacks), kept the Tigers off the board for the remainder of the game to help Magee pull off the 26-14 defeat of the Collins Tigers to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
After the game, Coach Dyess beamed with pride for his team’s gutsy performance. "I'm proud of them. We were flat coming off a big game with a lot of emotions last week's game, but when you're a great program you've got to learn how to win those types of games and we did that tonight and we're not going to apologize for that," he said.
Coach Dyess sang the praises of his defense who kept the Tigers bottled up for much of the night. "Defensively we were lights out. They had some stuff that we really weren't ready for. Their quarterback got hurt and we practiced against one thing all week and they threw something else at us. The defense did a great job adjusting on the fly."
Next week, the Trojans return home for the first time since the season opener against Jefferson County to play host to the Falcons of Wingfield, who come in 0-3 on the season. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Come early to enjoy the pregame atmosphere as the Trojans look to move to 4-0.