By Carey Reeder
GARDENDALE –It came down to the last play between the Pinson Valley Indians and the Gardendale Rockets in Friday night’s AHSAA Region 6 area matchup as the Rockets outlast the Indians 34-31 at Driver Stadium.
The game came down to the last 2 minutes as Gardendale gained possession back with just over two minutes left in the game. Down 31-28, the Rockets put together a drive that took them to the Pinson Valley 9-yard line. With just five seconds on the clock, quarterback Michael Crowder took the snap, scrambled, and found an open Connor Howell in the end zone as time expired.
Although the final drive ended in a touchdown, the outcome of it has some Pinson coaches asking questions. Just over a minute left a pass completed by the Rockets was fumbled and was recovered by the Indians. As the celebrating ensued, the referees came together to change the call to Gardendale football, and said that it was fumbled again after the initial recovery. “They said their guy ripped the ball out of our guys hands, but it looked like he was on the ground” said Pinson Valley Head Coach Matt Glover after the game. “It’s bad that a call like that can dictate the way kids play a football game” Glover added.
The game was a back and forth contest throughout the first three quarters as Gardendale was playing catch up most of the night. The Indians seemed to take control of the game in the second quarter as safety Cedric Rudolph Jr returned a fumble 95 yards to the end zone to take a 21-14 lead into halftime. The second half the Indians came out to score another touchdown on a 5 yard pass from quarterback Jackie Matthews to receiver Torrey Hendrix. Saul Rios added a field goal after a Rockets touchdown to make the score 31-21. The Rockets were able to score again and the next drive for the Indians stalled out which set up the game winning drive by Gardendale.
Glover also said that he will look at film, and while he is he will notice the big plays of 20 plus yards that hurt the Indians defense all night.
The offense however was firing on all cylinders as they scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game. Matthews was 14/24 on the night with 138 yards passing and two touchdowns. His favorite target tonight was Hendrix who hauled in a game high eight catches for 57 yards and one touchdown. Although a great individual night, Hendrix’s night was cut short with a leg injury in the third quarter and did not return.
Running back Khymel Chaverst also contributed to the Indians offense with 58 yards on the ground on 15 carries and one touchdown as well.
The Pinson defense was led by cornerback Rhasaan Christian with seven tackles, one of those being for a loss.
The Indians now look forward to next weeks game against Carver, but in the back of the minds of both players and coaches, the playoff situation has to looming. “Gotta win next week.” Coach Glover kept it simple. “Our backs are against the wall. Gotta win next week.”
With Gardendale winning tonight over Pinson that puts both teams at 3-2 in the region. Minors win over Clay-Chalkville tonight puts the Tigers at 5-0 in the region and in the drivers seat for the first round home game in the playoffs. With only two weeks left, the playoff race in region six is heating up.
Pinson Valley (5-3) host Carver (4-4) next week and look to rebound from a tough lost on the road.