St. Albans forced a fourth-quarter defensive stop, then won in the final seconds on a touchdown pass to escape Nitro on Friday in an exciting Battle for the Bridge.
Trailing by one score, the Red Dragons (1-1) held the Wildcats (0-2) on fourth-and-1 with 2:54 remaining in the contest, then turned the opportunity into the winning drive with a touchdown pass with less than five seconds left to win 32-28 at Underwood Field.
“Too exciting for my tastes,” SA coach Nick Watts said. “Anytime you’re down like that, you come up with a stop, that’s just gutsy football. That’s not a talent thing. That’s just a we-refuse-to-lose situation, which is what we’ve been preaching to them.”
Nitro running back Tay Calloway carried 37 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns, but the St. Albans defensive line stopped Calloway’s effort on fourth-and-1 at the Red Dragons 44-yard line.
“They did a great job, they played hard,” Wildcats coach Zach Davis said of his team’s effort. “I thought the offensive line came out and whipped some tail. We needed one yard to ice the game, we couldn’t get it. When you rush for 300, but can’t get it when you need it, it doesn’t really matter.”
St. Albans, without any timeouts, quickly moved down the field. The Red Dragons hustled to the line once they reached the 10-yard line. SA quarterback Caden McCoy took the snap, rolled right and found Cayden Doub for the touchdown pass with 4.6 seconds left in the game.
“I was just rolling out and then I saw three or four people come right at me,” McCoy said. “I saw Cayden wide open in the end zone. I just threw it up to him. It was crazy.”
For the Red Dragons, the score spelled jubilation.
“I knew that was the game — four seconds left,” Doub said. “That was huge. I was so ecstatic. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t explain my feeling right there.”
Nitro had one last opportunity after the kickoff and a penalty allowed an untimed down. The Wildcats, however, threw an interception to end the game.
The loss proved extremely difficult for Nitro, which battled back in the second half to take its first lead 28-26 with 5:09 left in the game. In the second half St. Albans led 26-12, but Nitro responded with two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns. On the second score, the Wildcats claimed the lead with a successful 2-point conversion run.
In the first half, St. Albans scored on its first play from scrimmage on a 57-yard pass play from McCoy to Jaimelle Claytor. Later, in the second quarter, Claytor scored on a 94-yard run.
The Red Dragons looked to add another score after recovering a Wildcats fumble, but SA made its own miscue, throwing an interception at Nitro’s 4-yard line. Logan Vest capped the ensuing Wildcats drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to cut the St. Albans lead to 12-6.
Late in the second quarter, Nitro advanced to midfield as the Wildcats looked to even the score before halftime, but St. Albans’ Steven Eaton intercepted a Joel Sweat pass and returned it 53 yards for the touchdown. The Red Dragons led 18-6 at half.
Nitro next plays host to Herbert Hoover at 7 p.m. Friday, while St. Albans visits Greenbrier East at 7:30 p.m. Friday.