TRM-WSN memories won't soon be forgotten
Published 6:03 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2006
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS Editor
Regardless of which side of Murder Creek fans reside, last Friday's 42-35 win by W.S. Neal over previously undefeated and 4A top-ranked T.R. Miller will be a game that will be remembered for years to come.
The Blue Eagles staged perhaps the best comeback in the history of the program when they overcame a 21-point halftime deficit and beat the Tigers on Marquis Barksdale's 30-yard touchdown pass to Justin Smith with only eight seconds left.
Smith caught the fourth down pass just inside the 10-yard line and carried a couple of T.R. Miller defenders with him into the end zone for the score. If Smith had been tackled before he crossed the goal line, time may have ran out on the Blue Eagles before they could have run another play because W.S. Neal was out of timeouts.
Quarterback Marquis Barksdale said it was a post play that freed up Smith for the catch.
Smith's winning touchdown was not the only desperation play W.S. Neal converted. The Blue Eagles were faced with a third-and-22 on their previous possession when the score was deadlocked at 28-28. Senior wide receiver Jonathan Alexander kept the drive alive when he hauled in a 25-yard pass from Barksdale along the right sideline. Alexander's catch gave W.S. Neal a first down and the Blue Eagles were able to score a few plays later on Nykeem Barton's four-yard run to take a 34-28 lead with just over two minutes left.
While Barksdale's touchdown pass to Smith may be the play that people remember the most, W.S. Neal coach Blaine Hathcock said there are several plays that could have changed the outcome one way or the other.
Smith, Barksdale and Alexander all agree on one thing. The complexion of the game changed when W.S. Neal's Xavier Singleton came up with an interception in T.R. Miller territory three plays into the second half.
W.S. Neal's win upstaged what was otherwise an incredible night for T.R. Miller running back Justin Gomez, who scored five touchdowns in a losing effort.
Smith said it was ironic players from the 1946 W.S. Neal and T.R. Miller teams were honored before the game.