Bobcats fend off H-J, 24-23
By Tom Halliburton
ORANGEFIELD — Austin Moore discovered late Friday night that one foot can be bigger than 141 yards.
Moore ran 15 times for 141 yards, including an 80-yard scoring gallop on his team’s first snap. Yet the Orangefield senior prevented Hardin-Jefferson from winning the game in the night’s climactic moment by about a foot.
The Bobcats middle linebacker applied the stop sign just in time on a two-point conversion run by Hawks’ standout Deshon Moreaux with 1:09 to play, preserving Orangefield’s 24-23 victory at F.L. McClain Stadium.
Most of the fans did not know if Moreaux had reached the goal after he took a pitch back from quarterback Logan Thompson to the left side of H-J’s offensive line.
“It was a buck sweep to the outside,” Moore said. “We knew he was getting the ball. I just remember seeing my keys. We could tell that we had stopped him.”
Stopping Moreaux was Orangefield’s greatest challenge all night. The Cats’ ability to do just that enabled OHS to improve to 4-3 and 1-0 in District 9-4A Division II.
Orangefield failed to stop Thompson and Moreaux from connecting on a 63-yard touchdown pass on the previous play. Rather than taking their chances on overtime, the Hawks first-year head coach Jared Sloan opted to try to run in a two-pointer.
Moreaux ran 15 times for 158 yards, caught two passes for 76 more and brought home all three H-J touchdowns. No wonder the Orangefield defense expected him on the two-point conversion.
Bobcats coach Josh Smalley had his own tough call earlier in the fourth quarter when he elected for his kicker Matthew Rainey to kick a 25-yard field goal, giving the Cats a 24-17 with 7:05 to play. Moore and quarterback Matthew Watkins had driven 60-plus yards to H-J’s 7 and faced a fourth-and-2 at that point.
Smalley and plenty of longtime fans witnessed a rare start to this district opener. Orangefield’s offense finally took the field with 11 minutes and 12 seconds left in the first half.
‘I’ve never seen that before in a varsity game where one team has the ball for an entire quarter,” the Bobcats coach said. “I had seen it in a sub-varsity game, but not in a varsity game.”
H-J opened the game with a totally unique 68-yard, 20-play scoreless possession consuming 13 minutes and six seconds.
The Hawks methodically chalked up six first downs, marching on the ground with little resistance to the Bobcats 4 but Nolan Harvill’s 20-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
That kick enabled the Cats to snap the ball for the first time all night with 10:54 left in the first snap. Moore made Orangefield’s first scrimmage play worth the wait.
The senior fullback dashed 80 yards down H-J’s sideline for the game’s first score. The Cats only had the ball for 6:15 of the first half but they wished they had not attempted their one completion of the half.
A four-yard connection from Watkins to Andrew Hoyland turned into disaster when Hoyland tried to lateral the ball to teammate Triston McGee. The Hawks claimed the loose ball on their own 17 with 58 seconds left before the bands played.
Even though H-J could not score in a series lasting more than one quarter, it proved it could score in 15 seconds. Speedy Moreaux zoomed 83 yards behind the right side of his line, tying the halftime count.
McGee quickly untied that count by taking the second-half kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown. H-J basically did the same moments later, setting up Moreaux for a 41-yard scoring dash off a counter play.
Hardin-Jeff 0 7 10 6 — 23
Orangefield 0 7 14 3 — 24
OF: Austin Moore 80 run (Matthew Rainey kick), 10:54
HJ: Deshon Moreaux 83 run (Nolan Harvill kick), :43
OF: Triston McGee 75 kickoff return (Matthew Rainey kick), 11:47
HJ: Deshon Moreaux 41 run (Nolan Harvill kick), 10:11
OF: Matthew Watkins 1 run (Matthew Rainey kick), 4:39
HJ: Nolan Harvill 25 field goal, 1:42
OF: Matthew Rainey 25 field goal , 7:05
HJ: Deshon Moreaux 63 pass from Logan Thompson (run failed), 1:09
First downs 12 13
Rushes-yards 42-289 46-258
Passing yards 76 4
Total yards 365 262
Comp-Att-Int 2-3-0 10-21-2
Punts-Avg. 1-42 1-28
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties-Yards 4-38 3-20
RUSHING — H-J: Deshon Moreaux 15-158, Talon Tilley 14-96, Cole Priddy 8-17, Logan Thompson 5-18; OF: Austin Moore 15-141, Matthew Watkins 19-52, Blake Bradley 8-49, Hunter Evans 4-24.
PASSING — H-J: Logan Thompson 2-3-0-76; OF: Matthew Watkins 1-3-0-4.
RECEIVING — H-J: Deshon Moreaux 2-76; OF: Andrew Hoyland 1-4.