There was “P-44 Haynes,” when the Georgia Bulldogs slipped a fullback into the end zone in the final seconds to pull out the dramatic win in Knoxville in 2001.
Well, Madison County has some cool-sounding play names, too. How about “Viper Twist?” That was the game-winning play Friday night. It’s a four-receiver set, with each wideout running a deep, vertical route.
Quarterback Alex Jordan — who truly summoned his inner Aaron Rogers Friday — lofted the ball up to Madison County’s best athlete, Trae Burton, who found himself in man-to-man coverage with the game on the line.
The “Viper Twist” surely worked.
Burton grabbed the ball and fell to the ground in the end zone. You have to love his post-game quote: “I just wanted to lay there” after the catch. I bet he did. What a moment to savor, looking up at the night sky, your teammates going nuts, the ball in your hands — along with the game. Of course, let’s not forget Joey Sandres. The extra point at such a moment is pretty pressure packed. But he booted it through. And the celebration started.
The band joined in the post-game action in a great way. Director Nick Golding lined his crew up and the crowd of ecstatic teens danced to the music. Helmets were raised to the air. And hugs were everywhere.
It all seemed so improbable. The team appeared finished only a few moments earlier. The offense struggled at times Friday, particularly on the ground. And when the team got into the red zone, they couldn’t punch the ball in for six.
Then the magic seemed to kick in.
Red Raider coach Randell Owens said he’s never seen a fourth quarter like Friday’s in 32 years of coaching.
“It was pretty amazing,” he said. “I really didn’t realize how amazing it was until I was breaking down the film.”
Owens said that game-time thoughts are all about substitutions, play calling, etc. It’s hard to appreciate the drama in the middle of the battle.
On Monday, he talked of the statistical anomalies from Friday. For instance, the Red Raider offense ran 13 plays from scrimmage in the first quarter, four in the second, eight in the third and 27 in the fourth quarter. They had more plays in the fourth than the other three periods combined. What’s more, the team ran 15 plays in 50 seconds. “I’ve never seen that before,” he said.
Well, who has?
The Red Raiders also faced fourth and 10, fourth and 12 and fourth and 18 in the final 4:27 and converted on each attempt, scoring touchdowns on two of the plays.
It was a wild scene.
And the memories of that Friday night will last for many years. The “Viper Twist” will live on in Madison County.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.