On a night with a lot of offensive fireworks and the two teams combining for 48 points, it was the Spencer defense that made the difference.
The Greenwave avenged a one-point loss to Randolph-Clay in Cuthbert last season by scoring late and holding off a red-zone drive by the Red Devils in the final quarter to earn a hard-fought 27-21 win. The win moves Spencer to 1-1 on the year, while Randolph-Clay falls to 0-2.
"We have a young team, but tonight we just never gave up," said a proud Spencer coach Calvin Arnold. We made plays when we needed to and we fought hard. We knew if we could make plays that we had a chance to win this game, and our kids remembered how last year felt against this team and were determined not to let that happen again."
The Red Devils got a 51-yard kickoff return from Cornelius Bennett and another 15 yards added to that on a personal foul to start their last offensive series at the Spencer 19.
After a run and a 13-yard screen pass to Bennett, the Red Devils had the ball first-and-goal at the Spencer 8 yard-line. The next two plays lost 7 yards with Triston Williams tackling Marcus Smith for a five-yard loss on second down to push the Devils back to the 15.
After an incomplete pass, Williams again came up big, leading a group of Greenwave defenders in a sack of Caleb McFather on fourth down to thwart the drive and effectively seal the game for Spencer.
"We had a lot of guys going both ways and when it came down to that last drive for them, our kids knew they had to come together and make a stand. And they did that. Our backs were against the wall and we pulled together and got it done," said Arnold.
Spencer got on the board first, taking advantage of a Red Devil turnover. Quarterback McFather was tripped by a Greenwave defender as he attempted to hand off to Bennett. The ball popped away and rolled deeper into Randolph-Clay territory. Kameron Blackshaire finally pounced on the loose ball at the Red Devil 10. Two plays later Damarkus Robins pushed in from the two for the score. Cristhian Amable added the point-after for a 7-0 lead with 6:53 to play in the first quarter.
The Greenwave defense held off the Red Devils, forcing another turnover deep in its own territory, and coming up with several big plays. It appeared Spencer would hold on to the shutout, but Randolph-Clay had other ideas.
After a late-hit on a punt return put the Devils in business at the Greenwave 33, Bennett rattled off 18 yards to the 15. Spencer stiffened and the next two plays lost a total of five yards. A screen pass from McFather to Bennett covered 13 yards to the seven. After a delay penalty, Bennett cut his way in from 12 yards out to get his team on the board. The run for two failed and with just under 14 seconds left in the half, Spencer led 7-6.
Randolph-Clay wasted no time in taking the lead after halftime.
After the kickoff put the Devils in business at their own 34, it took just three plays to score. Dontravius Bolden covered the final 32 yards and the two-point run by Marcus Smith was successful, making it 14-7 with 10:43 left in the third period.
Spencer got the winning score with 5:44 left to play. Taking over after a punt at the Red Devil 48, Davis found Ervin Davis again over the middle for a 32-yard gain to the 16.
Robins scored on the next play -- a well-executed draw -- to put the Greenwave on top. A low snap resulted in no extra-point and Spencer led 27-21, setting up the final drama.
Thursday at Memorial Stadium
Randolph-Clay 0 6 15 0 21
Spencer 7 0 7 13 27
S Demarkus Robins 2-yd. run (Cristhian Amable kick) 6:53
R-C - Cornelius Bennett 12-yd. run (run failed) 0:14
R-C Dontravius Bolden 32-yd. run (Smith run) 10:43
S Ervin Davis 53-yd. pass from Tarvaraska Davis (kick good) 10:13
R-C Cornelius Bennett 2-yd. run (Smith kick) 4:24
S T. Davis 1-yd. run (kick good)
S Robins 16-yd. run (run failed) 5:44
Records: Randolph-Clay 0-2, Spencer 1-1. Next: Spencer, at Manchester, Sept. 13, 7:30 p.m.