C.H. Flowers 20,
Eleanor Roosevelt 14
Jimmy McClam and Derrick Marshall rescued C.H. Flowers with their physical skills in the last two minutes of yesterday's heart-stopping 20-14 win over visiting Eleanor Roosevelt. McClam's 66-yard touchdown catch gave Flowers (10-1) the lead in the final minute, and Marshall's interception with 14 seconds left catapulted the No. 17 Jaguars into next weekend's 4A South Region championship game.
But the two players, each 5 feet 7 and crackling with confidence, first needed to talk their way into their starring roles.
McClam's moment came first. With the score tied at 14 and less than two minutes remaining, Flowers regained possession at its 21-yard line when Jeffrey Alexander stopped Roosevelt a yard short on fourth and six.
McClam had spent much of the game pestering Flowers Coach Mike Mayo for the ball, and Mayo listened to his running back during the game's most important drive. McClam had just three carries to that point, but he immediately rushed twice for 13 yards. Then, following a Flowers timeout, he nabbed a short pass over the middle from quarterback Evan McCollough, slipped a tackle and outraced several defensive backs to the end zone.
"I told Mayo, 'Just get me the ball, I won't let you down,' " McClam said. "I just wouldn't be stopped."
But there was still nearly a minute on the clock, and Roosevelt began to march behind standout senior quarterback Derrick Williams, whose gritty 17-yard scramble put his team at the Flowers 25-yard line with 34 seconds left.
Marshall, a defensive back, was forced to sit out several second-half plays after bruising his ribs. But he nagged Mayo to let him back on the mud-splattered field, and again, the coach listened to his player.
On second down, with Williams flushed out of the pocket and rolling to his left, Marshall stepped in front of his man and grabbed an interception that ended what Roosevelt Coach Rick Houchens called "one of the best high school games I've been involved with."
Afolabi Aromire started the game with an 85-yard kickoff return for Flowers. In the second quarter, Roosevelt answered with a dominating 16-play, 99-yard scoring drive, punctuated by Malcolm Banks's 14-yard touchdown run.
The Raiders (8-3) controlled much of the action, three times stopping Flowers inside the 10-yard line, earning an 18-8 advantage in first downs and marching up and down the field in the second half behind Williams and nimble backs Jeff Harrison and Cliff Hill.
But three forced turnovers and a pair of noisy seniors gave Flowers the final edge.
"That's the kind of kids [McClam and Marshall] are," Mayo said. "Kids with big hearts who came up with big plays."