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Indians make statement with near comeback

Jimmy Trodglen/


By Jimmy Trodglen


SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. – Montgomery Central knew it was three plays from beating a team that played for the Class 4A state title last season.

Being so close, only to come up empty, would’ve been a deflating experience, but the Indians took solace in a notable comeback attempt.

Trailing 31-14 midway through the third quarter, the Indians came within two points of keeping their perfect season alive, only to lose 36-34 to Springfield in a Region 5-4A game Friday.

Indians quarterback Ben Dawson completed only one of his three attempts, but his one completion went for a 35-yard touchdown to Jaden Flake to slice Springfield’s lead to 36-34 with less than two minutes remaining.

Springfield stopped Montgomery Central on a two-point conversion attempt to take over sole possession of first place in the region.

“I am proud to death of the way our kids played,” Indians coach Jeff Tomlinson said. “They fought to the very end and I love the fact that they came out when we were down 30-14 and we didn’t stop.

“You got your money’s worth if you paid $6 tonight,”

Springfield moved to 3-0 inside the region and 5-2 overall. Montgomery Central, off to its best start in the program’s history, slipped to 3-1 and 7-1.

“It was two evenly matched teams playing each other,” Tomlinson said. “I told our guys we have a couple of special players and they’ve got a couple of special players and those players showed out tonight.”

Montgomery Central hurt itself with three fumbles, while Springfield blocked a punt.  The Yellow Jackets scored 10 points off the Indians’ mistakes.

“We were the team that made the most mistakes with a couple of turnovers in the first half and then a turnover in the second half, that was the difference in the ballgame,” Tomlinson said.

The Indians ran for 352 yards on 46 carries, while the Yellow Jackets were held to 112 rushing yards. Most of Springfield’s damage occurred through the air where quarterback Bryan Hayes threw for 201 yards and four touchdowns.

Montgomery Central’s Devontay Skelton ran for 165 yards on 14 carries while Drez Sanders added 148 yards on 19 runs.

The Yellow Jackets held a 16-14 lead following Hayes’ 11-yard touchdown run with 4:27 left in the second quarter.

Montgomery Central fumbled at 25-yard line with less than two minutes remaining in the first half, giving the Yellow Jackets another shot at the end zone. Hayes delivered with a 13-yard touchdown throw with seconds remaining to give the Yellow Jackets a 23-14 halftime lead.

Hayes’ 16-yard touchdown run with 6:14 left in the third extended the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 30-14.

Instead, of falling apart the Indians responded with Sanders’ 47-yard touchdown run.

“It wasn’t even close last year, but our 17 seniors have been through the wars,” Tomlinson. “They’re battle tested, because they’ve had to fight since some of them as freshmen, and a lot as sophomores, have started three straight years.

“They have put the work in and games like this is what I reminded them, this is what they have put the work in for. They’re our leaders and they’re going to keep us in ballgames.”

Down 36-21, Skelton scored on a 57-yard run, cutting the Indians’ deficit to 36-28.

With one more opportunity available, the Indians drove inside Yellow Jackets’ territory when Dawson connected with Jaden Flake on a 35-yard touchdown pass.

Sanders was stopped at the 1-yard line on the game-tying, two-point conversion attempt.

“With a little help from Portland, we still have a chance to win the region,” Tomlinson said. “I reminded them that our goals that we set this year are still in front of us. We still have more history to make and we still have more goals to reach.”

Up next

Following the bye week, Montgomery Central will close the regular season with region games against White House and White House Heritage.

Springfield will finish its season with Portland, Greenbrier and Creek Wood.

Montgomery Central beat Portland 30-0 earlier this season.

Jimmy Trodglen, editor, Twitter@Tnsports360