Pick with 1:19 left sets up game-winning score vs. Winder-Barrow
Winder-Barrow threw Madison County a gift-wrapped interception in the waning moments Friday night, and Raider defensive back Presly McKeever was there to gladly accept it.
With his team trailing Winder-Barrow 29-28 late and on the verge of losing, McKeever snagged a wayward pass from Christian Davila near the Bulldogg 25 and returned the ball to the one-yard line with 1:16 left. Raider quarterback Jacob Owens scored two players later to give Madison County (1-1) a wild 35-29 win over the Bulldoggs (0-1).
“I was kind of scared,” McKeever said of the interception. “I thought I was going to drop it. I was too open. But I caught it and tried to score.”
As for Owens, it was the second touchdown of the night for the ailing quarterback who’d missed one day of school this week due to illness.
His one-yard plunge with 1:05 left ensured that Madison County wouldn’t start the year 0-2.
“That was easy what I did,” Owens said. “The hard part was what Presley and the defense did. That was all them.”
The game-changing interception was the result of an apparent Bulldogg miscommunication.
McKeever said the Winder-Barrow receiver ran a stop route, while the Davila threw it long. The Raider corner back read the quarterback and stayed with the pass.
“I saw the quarterback rare back, so I knew he was fixing to throw it there,” he said. “I knew I had that one.”
McKeever’s interception and Owens’ score capped a helter skelter series of events for Madison County, which had blown a 12-point fourth quarter lead.
The Raiders took a 28-16 advantage with 11:30 left after Bracken Turner stepped in at quarterback, rolled right, and hit Patrick McCrary for a 78-yard touchdown pass.
But Winder-Barrow rallied for two touchdowns to take a 29-28 edge with 5:37 left.
Madison County then drove to the Bulldogg two, where it seemingly saw its hopes slip away when Jamal Cooper was stopped short of the end zone on a fourth down with just 2:52 left, giving the ball back to Winder-Barrow.
But the Raider defense forced a third-and-seven, and that’s when McKeever fielded Davila’s errant pass, sprinted inside the five and hurled his body toward the endzone, getting stopped just short of the goal line.
A few Raider players thought he’d broken the plane and scored, including McKeever.
“I think I hit the pylon a little bit,” McKeever said.
The victory was the Raiders' first since Sept. 12, 2008 when they beat Monroe Area 34-0. But Madison County had to survive being out-gained 331-168 and play opportunistic football to win this one.
Madison County, which led 21-14 at the half, forced four turnovers – two which led to touchdowns -- while Jamal Cooper returned a kickoff 83 yards for a score, his second in as many weeks.
“There was a lot of team effort in the game,” McKeever said. “This is the best team effort we’ve had in a long time.”