Choctaw's late heroics fend off Crestview comeback (VIDEO, GALLERY)

choctaw football

Choctawhatchee's John Hicks runs for yardage against Crestview on Friday.

NICK TOMECEK / Daily News
Published: Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 00:20 AM.

CRESTVIEW – It was a game of inches last week for Choctaw, which stuffed Pace at the goal line as time expired in a 34-27 win. On Friday at Crestview, the difference was as small as a blocked extra point.

Choctaw, a team that finished 1-6 in games decided by a possession last year, has learned how to close out games. This is not the 3-7 team of yesteryear.

Garrison Floyd and John Hicks each found the end zone in the first half, Choctaw's 3-4 defense forced four turnovers, and Marcus Penick and Tom Shaw came together to block Tyler Hancock's extra point with 3 minutes and 16 seconds left in the game to lead the Indians to a 14-13 win.

PHOTOS: View a photo gallery from the game >>

VIDEO: View clips from the game >>


"Every week it's someone knew stepping up," Choctaw head coach Greg Thomas said. "Our defense bent but didn't break and forced some key turnovers. They made the stops when they needed to."

The last stop came with under a minute to play on a James Siler pick of Crestview quarterback Khalil Foster, who threw two interceptions.

"I was just trying to get the stop, keep them from scoring," said Siler, who also had an interception last week. "We're putting in a lot of work at practice and it's all paying off right now."

Crestview was on the opposite end of a 14-13 game last week at Milton, and Crestview head coach Tim Hatten said they had only themselves to blame. And it was two first-half miscues – an overthrown ball on a would-be touchdown on fourth-and-5 and a fumble at the 1-yard line that was recovered by Choctaw – the first-year Bulldogs coach lamented the most.

"You just don't leave 14 points out there in the first half," said Hatten, whose team trailed 14-0. "We played good enough to score 35 points. Unfortunately in the game of football there's turnovers and mistakes."

The mistakes were nearly offset by a six-yard touchdown run by Emmanuel Reed to open the second half and later a Jaylynne Robinson 34-yard touchdown run where he juked a sea of defenders, spun at midfield and reversed course up the left sideline to paydirt, but in the end the blocked kick brought to light all the earlier mistakes.

"When you do that in the game of football usually there's a price to pay," Hatten said of the mistakes. "We have lived on the edge for two weeks."

So has Choctaw, but once again the Indians found a way to win despite its struggles on offense.

Hicks, who pounded out 143 yards and a touchdown in the opener, rushed for 82 yards and found the end zone on a 12-yard score in the first quarter, but the Indians only gained 127 rushing yards. And while Floyd, who in the opener threw for two scores in a 7-for-12, 150-yard effort and rushed for another two touchdowns, found the end zone on a 1-yard keeper in the second quarter, his receivers also dropped four passes as the junior was 7 of 14 for 84 yards.

"Defensively we played lights out the second half," said Hatten, whose team didn't allowed one Choctaw first down in the final 24 minutes of play.

Choctaw's defense also shined. Along with the four turnovers, the Indians had four sacks and held Foster in check to the tune of a 16-for-25 night for 161 yards.

"We really struggled offensively there in the second half, but our defense stepped up," Thomas said. "They were out there the entire second half and didn't give up. Just tremendous. This is a huge momentum builder for us."



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