By Tim Chambers
ELIZABETHTON—JCMS’ football team gave the phrase “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat” a totally new meaning against Happy Valley on Thursday. Connor Simcox fired an 84-yard touchdown pass to Chad Morefield on the last play of the game that allowed the Horns to escape Warrior Hill with a dramatic 14-8 victory.
The storybook ending found its place on WCYB’s sportscast and left the Warrior fans shocked as to what they had just witnessed.
The play came after Johnson County’s defense stopped the Tribe on the 16-yard line with 04 seconds remaining in the game. Head coach Devin Shaw elected to call timeout instead of taking a knee to send the game into overtime. He spoke about his decision to air it out.
“We ran the same thing on the final play of the first half, but Connor didn’t throw it far enough,” said Shaw. “I told him to throw it as far as he could and allow Chad to run under it. Both of them made great plays, and that’s the type of players that they are. This was a huge victory for us after losing the way we did on Tuesday to Yancey County. I told our kids that we had one day to recover and get ready for a huge conference game, and they did that. I couldn’t be more proud of them for how they stepped up and played tonight. We needed this game for sure.”
Dodging a bullet
The Warriors could have won the football after driving the ball down inside the red zone to the 16-yard line with 42 seconds remaining. They had a pass dropped in the end zone and one that was knocked away on fourth down allowing the Horns to remain tied at 8-8. That’s when Simcox hooked up with Morefield for the shot that was heard throughout Elizabethton.
“I was scared because coach said we were going to throw the ball and I didn’t want to mess it up,” said Simcox. “I was throwing it to Chad all the way and threw it as hard as I could. I saw him come open and was hoping that he would run under the pass. He made an unbelievable catch. We won’t forget this one for a long time.”
Morefield praised his teammate for the perfect pass. He looked relieved about what had just happened.
“I didn’t think I was going to catch it, but he put it me right in my hands,” said Morefield. “It was the perfect throw by Connor, and our offensive line did a great job of giving him time to get it off. I saw the end zone, and I wasn’t about to let anybody catch up with me. This was a sweet win to come down here and beat Happy Valley. We gave it everything that we had.”
Sluder provided a spark
The Horns were coming off a 32-12 loss to Yancey County, a team that Happy Valley had crushed last week.
They needed a spark and 7th grader Kyle Sluder gave them one.
He scored the game’s first touchdown and added a two-point conversion run to put the Longhorns on top 8-0 late in the first quarter.
The TD run was set up by Ethan Simcox’s 50-yard completion to a streaking Morefield.
Happy Valley scored with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. Waylen McKeehan found paydirt from 25-yards out to tie the game at 8-8 after their successful 2-point conversion try.
Nehemiah Willis was a big factor in the game for the Longhorns. He recovered two fumbles including one at the 10-yard line that spoiled another Happy Valley scoring drive, and Evan Dollar had a key onside kick recovery.
Morefield’s contributions were enormous. He caught three passes for 110 yards and had another 51-yard touchdown reception called back due to a penalty.
Sluder rushed for 65 yards before leaving the game with an injury. It was later revealed that he broke his collarbone and will be lost for the season.
The Warriors had trouble moving the football up the middle against Johnson County’s tackles. Daniel Stout and Isaiah Fenner came up big with five tackles each to lead the defense. Ethan Simcox, Morefield, Willis, Connor Simcox, and
Chase Muncy provided four apiece.
Muncy added 45 yards rushing and Morefield had a huge 25-yard run.
The Longhorns will be at home on Thursday against the Unaka Rangers and the following Tuesday at Chuckey-Doak.
Game time for each contest is 6 p.m.
JCMS 8 0 0 6 – 14
H.V. 0 8 0 0 – 8
JC—Sluder 2 run (Sluder run)
HV—McKeehan 25 run (McKeehan run)
JC—Morefield 84 pass from C. Simcox