Big ‘Mo’ dooms WAP
In the aftermath that followed their 31-7 loss to the Cornerstone Christian Chargers, the West Alabama Prep Titans and Head Coach Webb Tutt were left looking for answers.
Many factors contributed to the loss for the Titans, including mental mistakes, costly turnovers and horrendous officiating. As Tutt accurately pointed out, the loss was not due to a lack of effort.
After receiving the opening kickoff at their own 28, the Titans methodically drove downfield, averaging five yards per play, surging inside the Charger 30-yard line. On the ninth play of the drive, a fumbled exchange from quarterback Kevin May to running back Devon Norman produced the game’s first turnover.
CCA then marched the ball back against the Titans. Highlighted by a 26-yard pass from Karl Martin to Matt Kennedy, Cornerstone needed eleven plays to strike paydirt first, scoring on a two-yard plunge by fullback Jeremy Walden. Kennedy added the PAT, giving CCA a 7-0 lead through the first quarter.
The Titans stormed back.
After driving the ball into Charger territory, May dropped back and lofted a pass for his tight end, Jan Jennings. Jennings, who was well covered by Kennedy, managed to tip the ball into the air.
Miraculously, Joe Magro was able to get under the tipped ball, make the catch and run into the endzone.
The play was good for 25 yards.
Magro’s PAT attempt was successful, and the game was tied 7-7 with 7:42 remaining in the first half.
The turning point in the game came late in the second quarter, as disaster struck the home team.
With the game’s momentum well in hand, WAP had possession of the football at the CCA 48-yard line, but only 17 seconds remaining. Tutt called for a middle screen, where the offensive line allows the defense to penetrate beyond the line of scrimmage, allowing the quarterback to drop a pass behind the rushing defenders.
Unfortunately for the Titans, CCA’s Ben Lee decided not to rush the quarterback.
Instead, Lee read the play perfectly, stepped in front of the pass from May, intercepted the ball and ran 52 yards for a Cornerstone touchdown. Kennedy again added the point-after, giving CCA a 14-7 lead at halftime.
More importantly, CCA stole the momentum away from the Titans.
After forcing the Titans to turn the ball over on downs at their own 49-yard line, the Chargers struck again.
With 9:46 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jamal Prentice scored a touchdown from nine yards out.
The PAT was good, and the Chargers led 21-7.
Matt Kennedy wasn’t through scoring for Cornerstone, as he added a 26-yard field goal, a nine-yard TD run and an extra point.
All that added up to the final tally, a 31-7 victory for the Chargers.
Seniors showed the way statistically for the Titans. Norman led the rushing effort with 68 yards on 9 carries. Magro added 50 yards on 11 carries.
Chad Seale paced the defense with 17 tackles on the night.
Junior Walton Luckie chipped in 11.
While Tutt gave credit for the way Cornerstone played, some on the WAP sideline thought officiating hurt the Titans more than it has all season.
The same officials were on hand for WAP’s 34-8 loss at Central Christian just two weeks earlier when many of the officials’ calls were questionable.
Before the game even began, WAP fans were concerned when the officials felt it was necessary to back their van near the playing field &045; very near where the ambulance parks &045; seemingly in order to make a speedy get-away.
In hind sight, that was their smartest call of the night.
Following the game, Tutt had no on-the-record statement regarding the officials, except to prophetically state that "[those officials] won’t ever call our games again."
The loss drops the Titans to 4-5 overall for the season, 3-3 in area. The Titans will not know their play-off status until the final regular season games are played next week.
It is likely, however, that they will finish fourth in area, thus qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Their first-round opponent would be the Jackson Academy Eagles.
On Friday, WAP concludes the regular season at Sumter.