ARTHUR -- The Knights took a 767 lead with just 1:03 left in the half on a 28-yard run by Caleb Nettles on a fourth and three on the Cumberland 28. It looked the Knights would have the lead and the momentum going into the half. The Pirates answered on a trick play. and went on to score 29 unanswered points in a 35-7 football victory at Wilson Field.
"It was jet left, reverse pass," said Cumberland coach Lucas Watkins who saw his team improved to 7-2. "It was a good situation. we didn't have a lot of time left. I thought 'let's roll the dice' and it worked. That was a huge momentum swing I think. It was big for us to have the lead at halftime (14-7).
Connor Butler took the handoff on a jet left and flipped it back to Myles Gerhardt and he threw it to a wide open Blayne Donsbach.
"We told our defensive backs to be deep and they were, but then they came up for the run," said first-year A-L-A-H coach Ryan Jefferson. "I get that. That is just the mentality when you see a reverse. They are not even thinking about that. That is on us coaches. we didn't' tell them to be ready for a trick play. We just told them to be ready for a pass. "
The second half started with the Knights getting the ball and they went three-and-out for the only time the entire game. Cumberland started at its own 37 and Wyatt Brant, who finished the game with 16 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns, gained eight and the Pirates recovered his fumble. After a 15-yard penalty on the Knights, Brant got the ball and scampered 38 yards for a touchdown. Kade Warner added the extra point for a 21-7 lead. The two plays are all the Pirates ran in the third quarter but outscored the Knights 14-0.
On the ensuing drive, the Knights drove from its own 31 to the Pirates 40 when they were faced with a fourth and 12 with 3:53 left in the third. Butler stepped in front of a pass, picking it off and returning it 66 yards for a touchdown. Warner's extra point boosted the lead to 28-7.
"I thought the biggest thing was the stop of their first drive," said Watkins. "We talked at half about getting a stop and then get a score on the board. We know they want to run the football and if we could get them down a couple of scored it might make them do things that they are not real comfortable doing and try and pass the ball. It was a good team win tonight."
Brant is now over 1,00 0 yards for the season. The sophomore has 144 carries for 1,117 yards and 22 touchdowns.
"We had practiced against a front that we had seen Arthur run the last two weeks and then they came out in something totally different," said Watkins. "It took us a series or two to adjust. It was a front we had seen before. The kids did a good job adjusting."
The Pirates were without the area leading quarterback 6-5, 210 senior Gabe Hatfill, who averages 191. 4 yards per game. He was injured in last week's win over Oblong\Palestine\Hutsonville.
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"He is going to start practice Monday," said Watkins. "He is waking now and thre win practice Thursday. He has a grade one strain to his MCL."
After nearly a scoreless opening quarter Cumberland got on the board as Wyatt Brant ran down the left sideline for an 86 yard touchdown run on the final play of the period.A-L-A-Hs Lucas Otto blocked the extra point for a 6-0 Pirate lead.
The Knights were driving on the ensuing possession inside the Cumberland 30 when they mishandled an exchange and Butler recovered to stop the drive.
Cumberland awaits the playoff pairings Saturday to find out who they play in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs.
"I told the players at the beginning of the week that Cumberland is a playoff team and if we can play with them or even win it would spark something and I think our kids realized that. We are right there. We just have to finish strong."
Arthur had five drives that ended in Cumberland territory all between the 36 and 48-yard line.
"We have stalled quite a bit on drives where we would go 30-40 yards," said Jefferson, whose team finished 2-7. "Then we would stall and I take that responsibility as I am calling the plays that are not effective on the third and long or putting us in bad situations. That is something I will look at all offseason."
Adam Day led the Knights offense with 17 carries for 127 yards.
It was Senior Night for the Knight football seniors and cheerleaders.
"Hopefully I made an impact on them, but they for sure made an impact on me," said Jefferson of the senior players.