By Josh Kraeger
Special to the Daily
In a game played for pride and plagued by penalties, the Banneker Trojans escaped with a 7-6 overtime victory over the Mount Zion Bulldogs.
Both teams were searching for a much-needed win. Instead of a battle for playoff seeds, the two schools were fighting purely for pride.
Last week, Mount Zion was forced to forfeit five games for using an ineligble player, ending their playoff hopes. Banneker also suffered a blow after losing to Tri-Cities last week. also ending their playoff hopes.
The game got off to a slow start, with each team trading possessions until the waning moments of the first quarter. Banneker had possesion of the ball on its own 29-yard line when junior quarterback Justin Henderson's pass was picked off by Mount Zion senior Rashaun Johnson.
Johnson took the ball the length of the field for a touchdown, but the score was negated by a late personal foul call on the play. Banneker got the first down it was looking for, but nothing else came of the drive, as the Trojans punted the ball three plays later.
On the Bulldogs' next drive, senior running back Josh King carried the ball four times for 13 yards and a first down. However, his next run on third down with 11 yards to go was in the wrong direction. King tried to avoid several tackles, running backwards and losing 22 yards on the play.
Mount Zion didn't give up though, hustling on special teams and forcing a fumble on the Trojans' punt return.
Once again, the Bulldog offense was unable to yield any significant production.
Sophomore quarterback Montel Buchanan had a quarterback sneak for seven yards, but on the next play he fumbled the ball and recovered it for a loss of seven yards.
Each team had several penalties on the next few possessions, and neither team was able to gain an advantage. Johnson once again took away the Trojans' hopes for a touchdown, but this time it actually counted. He intercepted Henderson's pass with seven seconds left in the half.
The Mount Zion and Banneker defenses put on a clinic for the remainder of the game, defending passes, producing monsterous sacks and hard-hitting tackles. Each team had their outstanding performers, but neither team could gain an advantage.
Banneker senior linebacker Justin Anthony had 10 tackles, including one for a loss of 22. Junior linebacker Antonio Boynton had six tackles, including a sack and a tackle for a loss of five yards.
Mount Zion senior defensive end Marcus Singleton led the Bulldogs defense with six tackes and two for a loss. King also contributed with four tackles, including a tackle for a loss of four yards and a sack for eight yards.
Two missed field goals by sophomore Todd Wooden had the score tied at 0-0 after four quarters and the game went into overtime. Each team had one possesion, but it was Mount Zion who had the first opportunity.
The first play of overtime was a two-yard run by Buchanan, taking the ball to the 13-yard line. On the next play, King exploded out of the backfield on a reverse, running the ball 13 yards and diving into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Bulldogs opted to go for two, but senior running back Quarterrio Morgan was stifled after a few yards and Mount Zion held a 6-0 lead.
Banneker took its turn and looked ready to take over the game. A halfback pass by senior Courtney Tucker intended for Henderson was incomplete deep in the endzone. The next play had Henderson throwing deep in the end zone, but this time it was Mount Zion senior free safety Austin Smith defending the pass and batting it down emphatically. The next play looked too good to be true, as Henderson threw a fade route intended for junior wide receiver Chaz Elder. Elder tried to catch the pass on his tiptoes, but was unsuccessful.
On fourth and 10 from the 15 yard line, Henderson once again took the ball, this time completing a 15-yard pass to senior wide receiver Miles Rankin for the touchdown. Wooden had his chance at redemption, and he redeemed himself by launching the kick straight through the uprights, securing the victory for Banneker.
Banneker (5-4) will look to end the season on a good note at home Friday night against Jonesboro (3-5). Mount Zion (1-8) will search for answers Friday night against playoff-bound Tri-Cities (6-3).