By Dave Gordon
For the second week in a row, Sonoraville High School’s football team rode on the strong legs of Cody Long and Andrew Slaton.
Long, a sophomore quarterback, rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns, while the senior Slaton added 167 yards and two more scores, leading the Phoenix to a 38-35 win over North Murray at Mountaineer Stadium in a Region 5-3A showdown.
It was also the foot of kicker Junior Solis leading Sonoraville, nailing the winning field goal with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter to put Sonoraville (2-3, 2-0) up 38-28.
The Mountaineers, however, would not quit late in the fourth. The home team came back with a 10-play, 67-yard drive that culminated with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Hinton McConkey to Payton Swilling in the corner of the end zone, cutting the Phoenix lead to that field goal margin.
After the score, play was delayed for 10 minutes due to a clock issue. The Mountaineers then recovered the onside kick to gain possession with 13 seconds left in the game. After a long incomplete pass by McConkey, a big sack by a group of Phoenix defenders ended the hopes for the Mountaineers (1-4, 0-2).
Sonoraville coach Roger Gentry was ecstatic with his team’s effort, especially the play of his young quarterback in just his second start.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Gentry said. “Our kids are unbelievable. We had three major injuries tonight. But, the thing I thought about coming up here on the bus, is that sophomore jinx ... the second time around. I thought, how’s he going to respond. He came out and did it again. They all came out and worked hard.”
With Sonoraville leading 21-14 at the half, the Mountaineers put together a drive in the third quarter to tie the game. North Murray fullback John Chastain scored the second of his two touchdowns, a 35-yard jaunt to tie the game at 21.
The Phoenix would respond by pounding out yards on the ground, ending with another Long run, a 31-yard touchdown at the 3:50 mark in the third that would put Sonoraville ahead for good.
North Murray coach David Gann spoke of the impact this loss may have for his team’s playoff picture.
“With only eight teams in the region it’s hard to lose too many and still get in the playoffs,” Gann said. “Hats off to them. It was a great game all the way down to the last second.”