In a back-and-forth battle of high-powered offenses, the Kell Longhorns gave their Homecoming crowd a gift by beating the Sprayberry Yellow Jackets 38-31.
Both teams came into the game 4-1 in region play and tied for second place. Coincidentally, both teams suffered their only region losses to Allatoona in their most recent games. The winner of this game is likely to secure a home playoff game. The atmosphere reflected the magnitude of the game. It felt like a big game, and the energy was palpable.
Offense is the key to success for each team. Kell leans on their passing game, and Sprayberry focuses on a running attack. To start the game, both teams turned to their strengths.
Kell opened the game with a long touchdown pass from Corbin LaFrance to Xavier Parris. After the made extra point, the Longhorns recovered an onside kick. The aggressive approach spoke to the importance of getting out to a big lead. Unfortunately for the home crowd, they squandered the opportunity to score on the ensuing drive.
On their first drive, Sprayberry’s Damarion Owens broke free for a huge run. Kell’s defense thwarted a touchdown, but Caleb Prickett kicked a field goal, which brought the score to 7-3.
Kell wouldn’t hold that lead for long though because Sprayberry’s Mustafa Hefner would return a punt for a touchdown. Quickly the Yellow Jackets took a 10-7 lead.
After recovering a fumble to start the second quarter, Kell was able to regain the lead thanks to a touchdown pass from LaFrance to Jaylon Brown.
It appeared that the Longhorns would take their 14-10 lead into halftime until Sprayberry’s quarterback, Kyle Brown, completed a spectacular touchdown pass with one second left on the clock.
Bursting with enthusiasm, Sprayberry ran to the locker room with a 17-14 lead at the half.
Corbin LaFrance and Jamal Hill wouldn’t let Sprayberry hold that lead for long, as they teamed up for a big touchdown on Kell’s first drive of the second half. A blocked extra point though gave the Longhorns only a three-point advantage.
After their defense intercepted Kyle Brown, Kell’s offense had an opportunity to widen that lead. They seized this opportunity by running a touchdown and nailing the extra point. Their advantage grew to 27-17. Kell looked like they were going to run away with the game, as Colby Kerns kicked a field goal, which increased their lead to 30-17 .
The Yellow Jackets weren’t out of the game though. Kyle Brown completed a crucial touchdown pass to Josh Bush. Although the extra point was no good, the Jackets had cut into the Longhorn’s lead.
In the fourth quarter, Corbin LaFrance threw an interception, which gave Sprayberry a chance to take the lead. After running back, Isaiah Abbey, carried the Yellow Jackets downfield, Brown threw another touchdown pass. Including the extra point, Sprayberry seized the lead 31-30.
At this point, there were less than five minutes left in the game, and the socially-distant crowd exploded into an uproar in an attempt to will the Longhorns to reclaim the lead for good.
Corbin LaFrance led Kell down the field. On Sprayberry 22-yard line, the Longhorns were facing a fourth-and-1 situation. Nervous energy radiated from the stands. Both coaches took timeouts, prolonging the anticipation for the biggest play of the game, Finally, the teams lined up for the play. The Kell sideline, and the home crowd, were thrown into a joyous frenzy when Sprayberry jumped offsides. The Longhorns gained five yards and a new set of downs because of the penalty. LaFrance found Jaylon Brown for another touchdown, giving Kell a 36-31 lead.
The extra point was no good, so Sprayberry just needed a touchdown to win the game. There was less than a minute left when they started their drive.
Kell’s defense stepped up and stifled any attempt at Sprayberry stealing the game. The Longhorns generated a fumble and recovered it in the Sprayberry end zone for a safety. The final two points secured the 38-31 victory for the Longhorns.
With the postseason looming, both teams put on playoff-caliber performances in an atmosphere to match.
The Yellow Jackets close out region play on the road against South Cobb, and Kell finishes region play at home against Lassiter on Friday.