By Joshua Huff, sports editor
TRUSSVILLE — As the onside kick bounced into the waiting arms of Hewitt-Trussville’s senior starting safety Malachi Moore, his teammates celebrated just inches away as the Alabama commit lie on the turf for a spell under the misty October sky in what was to be his final play in a Huskies uniform.
That onside kick recovery cemented Hewitt-Trussville’s, 35-29, victory over overall No. 1 Thompson in what was the season finale for the Huskies. Hewitt-Trussville did not obtain a playoff birth for the first time since 2012.
The outcome was mired in the fog of war all throughout the second half, however.
Trailing 21-13 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter, Thompson would narrow the deficit to one, 21-20, after quarterback Sawyer Pate’s 58-yard touchdown pass. The Warriors subsequently intercepted Huskies’ junior quarterback Jackson Holland and turned it into three points on an Evan McGuire 42-yard field goal, 23-21.
Hewitt-Trussville was not cowered, though. The Huskies countered with a 67-yard touchdown pass from Holland to Trey Washington to retake the lead, 28-23, with 4:52 left in the game.
It then came down to the will of Thompson and the fight of Hewitt-Trussville’s defense.
With the ball at their 36-yard line, the Warriors lined up four wide with three receivers to the right and one to the left. Pate dropped back, climbed the pocket as a Hewitt-Trussville defender crashed down and uncorked a wobbly pass down the middle of the field that was intercepted by a leaping Moore at the Huskies’ 43-yard line.
Moore sprinted 57 yards down the far sideline for the touchdown to seal the win.
“I knew they were trying to attack the middle of the field,” Moore said of the play. “I saw the crossing route. I was going to break on it, but the quarterback overthrew it.”
UPDATE – That might be a wrap here as Malachi Moore intercepts Sawyer Pate to give Hewitt-Trussville the 35-23 lead over No. 1 Thompson with 1:32 left in the game. Huskies playing the game of their lives tonight. @TribSportsLive pic.twitter.com/M1olNy5rwV
— Joshua Huff (@JH_NewEra) October 26, 2019
That play was just one of several plays made by fellow Huskies on Friday that allowed for the victory to even be in reach.
Holland was sensational on the night. He completed 7-of-11 passes for 230 yards with three total touchdowns. His performance during the drive that gave the Huskies the 21-13 lead will serve as a reminder for his level of talent as the squad heads into next season.
Justice Finkley was a disruptive force on the defensive line all night. The sophomore, who finished with eight sacks on the season, recorded 3.5 sacks against Thompson. Landen Berguson notched 10 total tackles with one sack against the Warriors. He concluded the season with 72 total tackles. Washington finished the game with four receptions for 88 yards with one touchdown.
But it is Moore, who finished the night with nine total tackles, one interception, one touchdown and one onside kick recovery, who earns this week’s OrthoAlabama Spine & Sports player of the week.
Moore finished his senior season with 83 total tackles, four interceptions and eight passes deflected. In his four seasons at Hewitt-Trussville, Moore has recorded 156 total tackles, five interceptions, one fumble recovery and 19 passes deflected.
The senior plans on graduating from Hewitt-Trussville in December and enroll at Alabama this coming January.
“I want to learn more about myself as a leader,” Moore had said about his goals for the remainder of the regular season. “I just want to see how I can overcome adversity.”
It’s safe to say that he handled the adversity quite well.