One official signaled touchdown. But then the referees huddled, and that’s seldom good. When the dust finally settled, the head ref talked to the head coaches (and no one else), the ball was given back to Lebanon at the previous spot on fourth down. Noah Mulaski’s re-punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback and McGavock drove 80 yards for a nail-hammering touchdown in a 28-14 Raider victory.
“Inadverdent whistle,” Lebanon coach Chuck Gentry said was what the official told him. “The back judge blew the whistle. He thought it was dead. He thought McGavock had it and he blew the whistle and it squirted out and we came up with it. So we have to replay the down on an inadverdent whistle.
“Once he blows it, it’s dead. And since no one had control of the ball, you got to replay the down.”
But the punch-in-the gut whistle wasn’t the only factor in the loss. McGavock’s slippery running back Ta’micus Napier got loose in the second half for 122 of his 162 yards, breaking tackles all along the way, and scoring all three second-half touchdowns. A Raider pass rush which turned up the heat after Lebanon went in front 14-7, reaching quarterback Chandler Crite for seven sacks. And two Lebanon turnovers which were converted into a pair of home-team touchdowns.
“All week, we talked about we have to tackle No. 7 (Napier), can’t let him get going, and that’s what he did, he got going,” Gentry said. “We missed too many tackles. One time we didn’t even get a hand on him. We’ll go back to work trying to get better tackling ASAP.”
Lebanon outgained McGavock in total yardage 289-259. But the Blue Devils turned it over on the first series at their 45-yard line. The Raiders went the short field to Harley Neal’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Greg Hanserd.
When holding onto the ball, Lebanon moved the ball down the field. Crite took off around right end and dove to the pylon from 3 yards out to cap a 66-yard march and tie the score.
The Blue Devils got the ball back. Crite hit Jeremiah Hastings with a 41-yard bomb down the right sideline. Tyrique Cooper, who led Lebanon with 110 yards on 20 carries, got 15 on the next play up the middle for a 14-7 Lebanon lead 15 seconds into the second quarter.
But then McGavock’s pass rush turned momentum.
“We played well first half,” Gentry said. “Our deal was let’s win the special teams game, let’s line up and tackle No. 7 and let’s keep the clock moving, keep the chains moving and don’t turn the football over. That didn’t happen.
“They were sending people off the edge and we’re not pass setting, not getting it out, not stepping up in the pocket, several things. Sometimes they were sending more than we could block. We got to get it out quick or throw it away or live to fight another day. We knew that’s what they were going to do. When we got behind, they could peel their ears back and it’s a little hard to pass block when the line up to bring seven and we got six to block them.”
For the second straight season, the second half belonged to McGavock as Napier scored on runs of 4, 39 and 3 yards, shedding Blue Devil tacklers as if he had jelly on his jersey.
“When bad things happen, you got to bounce back,” Gentry said. “You can’t hang your head and you got to play. That’s life.”
Life will continue for the Blue Devils next week as they prepare for a Friday-night visit from Mt. Juliet for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Clifton Tribble Field/Danny Watkins Stadium.
“My motto is I’m a fighter and I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to give up and keep fighting and that’s the type of kids I want around me.”
McGavock 28, Lebanon 14
Lebanon 7 7 0 0—14
McGavock 7 0 14 7—28
McGavock—Greg Hanserd 8 pass from Harley Neal (Hank Baskin kick), 8:45.
Lebanon—Chandler Crite 3 run (Noah Mulaski kick), 2:00.
Lebanon—Tyrique Cooer 15 run (Mulaski kick), 11:45.
McGavock—Ta’micus Napier 4 run (Haskin kick), 9:18.
McGavock—Napier 39 run (Baskin kick), 4:20.
McGavock—Napier 3 run (Baskin kick), 5:58.
First downs 19 12
—Rushing 15 8
—Passing 4 3
—Penalty 0 1
Passing yards 135 97
—Comp.-Att.-Int. 9-12-0 7-13-0
Fumbles lost 2 0
Penalties-yards 10-76 3-30
Punts-avg. 3-37.0 4-36.5
RUSHING—Lebanon: Joshua Powell 11-26, Tyrique Cooper 20-110, Chandler Crite 18-18. McGavock: Harley Neal 4-(-4), Ta’micus Napier 24-167, Cardarius Roriex 1-(-1).
PASSING—Lebanon: Chandler Crite 9-12-0—135. McGavock: Harley Neal 7-13-0—97.
RECEIVING—Lebanon: Jeremiah Hastings 4-103, Tyrique Cooper 2-(-3), Tobi Adewale 2-16, Kemon Keuble 1-19.