Nitro had lost the last six games in a row to rival St. Albans but finally snapped the streak on Friday, knocking off the host Red Dragons 28-21 on the road at Crawford Field in the Battle of the Bridge.
“That is probably one of the most exciting wins of my coaching career,” Nitro coach Zach Davis said. “We got the Bridge for the first time since 2012. That was fun. Our guys kept fighting and got the win.”
Tied at 21, Nitro faced a fourth-and-4 at the St. Albans 7-yard line with 9:29 left in the game.
Wildcat running back Cameron Foster was tackled at the 5 but a personal-foul facemask penalty was called on the Red Dragons. Also on the play, an unsportsmanlike penalty was called on St. Albans, giving Nitro a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
On the next play, Wildcat quarterback Trevor Lowe scored from a yard out to give the Wildcats a 28-21 lead.
St. Albans drove to the Nitro 18-yard line on the ensuing drive but a bad snap and a personal-foul penalty on the Red Dragons resulted in a first-and-35. On the very next play, St. Albans quarterback Caden McCoy attempted a screen pass but it was high and intercepted by Nitro’s Luke Hughes to end the Red Dragons’ threat with 4:52 left.
The Red Dragons forced a Nitro three-and-out and got the ball back at their own 19-yard line with 3:22 remaining. St. Albans drove to the Nitro 34-yard line but an intentional-grounding penalty forced a second-and-23 from its own 47. McCoy’s next three passes were incomplete, giving the Wildcats the defensive stop they needed to seal the victory.
St. Albans had multiple chances to win the game but was hampered by mental mistakes and penalties, racking up 15 of them for 105 yards.
“We killed ourselves with penalties and shot ourselves in the foot,” St. Albans coach Nick Watts said. “We have to get that type of stuff fixed. We can’t let this one game define our season. Nitro is a big rival for us but we have eight games on the schedule left, and we can beat some teams.”
St. Albans led 21-14 at halftime and Red Dragons running back Jaimelle Claytor had rushed for 191 yards on just eight carries, including three touchdowns.
However, Nitro pitched a shutout in the second half with its defense standing tall, pleasing Davis.
“Our defensive coaching staff had a great game plan and did a great job,” Davis said. “Our guys played their tails off tonight. We had a really good week of practice on defense, and did a really good job.”
Nitro didn’t complete a pass all game but running back Cameron Foster gained 141 yards on 23 carries, and Lowe rushed for 41 yards on 15 attempts, including three TD runs.
“You have to take what the defense gives you,” Davis said. “They are really good in the secondary. We wanted to run the football and we thought we could exploit them a little bit running the football. Our plan was to pound the football. Cameron was huge. We have a young offensive line paving the way.”
Claytor finished with 194 yards on nine carries for St. Albans but only rushed one time in the second half for 3 yards.