The play didn’t work once in practice.
Westside head coach Sheddrick Risper, however, thought it would be so open that he thought, “Why not try it?”
The Seminoles did try their version of the Tennessee Titans’ “Music City Miracle,” and it was, in fact, open. DeQavius Walker tossed the ball back across the field to Shannon Smith, who took it 75 yards for a touchdown to steal back the momentum from Mary Persons, which used its own trick play on special teams to gain an early lead. The Seminoles didn’t let up after that and eventually rolled to a 40-21 win Thursday night in a key region game for both teams.
Westside (5-1, 3-0 region) remains in the GHSA Region 2-AAAA lead alongside Baldwin, which will play the Seminoles in two weeks.
“We couldn’t get the throw right every time we tried it in practice,” Risper said. “We just knew it would be open. It was the momentum changer.”
The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-1) jumped out to an early lead on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Banks to Akebren Ralls. The play came after the Bulldogs converted on a fake punt pass on the previous play. After being rebuffed over and over in Westside territory during the first quarter, the Bulldogs led 7-0 in what became a wild second quarter.
The Seminoles struck back on the ensuing kickoff with its trick play -- Risper said they gave it the same name as the play Tennessee used to beat the Buffalo Bills in the final seconds of a playoff game in 2000.
The teams traded touchdowns -- Westside scored on a 18-yard run by Cedric Hollingshed and Mary Persons scored on Ralls’ 39-yard touchdown -- before the Seminoles took the lead for good.
After starting the game completing just one of his first 10 passes, Westside quarterback Noah Grayer connected on three straight passes, including a 29-yard touchdown to Smith to give the Seminoles a 19-14 lead heading into the half.
“I think I just focused a little bit more,” Grayer said. “I came out with my head on straight (after the kickoff return touchdown).”
Including the touchdown Grayer-to-Smith touchdown, Westside outscored Mary Persons 27-7 the rest of the way.
Hollingshed scored from a yard out on Westside’s first two possessions of the second half to push the Seminoles to a 33-14 lead.
Mary Persons closed to within 12 points on a 10-yard touchdown run by Nick Davis, who rushed for 174 yards on 31 carries, but Daniel Hall closed out any hopes of a comeback with a 38-yard touchdown with six minutes to play in the game. Hall finished with 136 yards on 19 carries.