By Colby Gordon / American-Statesman Correspondent
Posted at 12:44 AM
Stony Point has preached it’s a four-quarter team all season long, and never was that more apparent than Friday.
Falling behind Vista Ridge 22-7 after the first quarter, the Tigers dominated the rest of the contest, ending the game with 30 unanswered points on the way to a 44-29 District 13-6A win at Gupton Stadium that kept their undefeated season intact.
“I told the guys when we were down early that we do play the game for four quarters,” Stony Point coach Craig Chessher said. “We made some adjustments on both sides of the ball and I thought our defense played lights out for the final three quarters. Our offensive line deserves a lot of credit as we really ran the ball well and I think that was a big difference in the game.”
Having a running back like the Tigers do in senior Kendall Thomas certainly helps.
Pledged to play at Furman next fall, Thomas ran for 281 yards and four touchdowns as Stony Point (6-0, 4-0 District 13-6A) compiled more than 470 yards of offense, the majority of which came on the ground.
“Getting the win is the most important thing,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to get the win. It doesn’t matter (what the stats are), I’m just trying to help us win.”
After Vista Ridge (5-2, 3-2) scored early in the second quarter for a 29-14 lead, Stony Point’s defense went into lockdown mode. The Tigers forced three punts, recorded a safety and made three interceptions the rest of the way.
“We shut down all their strong points, and we were good from there,” said defensive back Jabori Adkins, who made two of the Tigers’ three picks. “It was a team effort and we really came together as a defense.”
Jaylon Stafford’s 8-yard touchdown run and the defense’s safety brought Stony Point within 29-23 at halftime, then the Tigers took their first lead when Thomas crossed the goal line from the 10 in the third.
Thomas capped off a 46-yard scoring drive with a 4-yard run midway through the fourth, then put the game away on a 30-yard jaunt a few minutes later.
“We were slow starting off the game and weren’t executing,” Thomas said. “But we kept up our intensity and we knew things would open up and that’s what happened.”
The Rangers looked like they would run away with the game in the first quarter.
Recording a safety on the game’s first series when Canon Kromis tackled Stony Point’s punter in the end zone, Vista Ridge quickly went up 15-0 as Kyle Brown hit Jacob Bowerman for a pair of short touchdown passes.
The Tigers got on the board thanks to Kyle Overton and Jaden Leonard hooking up on a 19-yard scoring pass, but the Rangers immediately answered with a quick 77-yard drive, Brown finding Maximus Clark on a 33-yard touchdown toss.
“We came out flat and they came out ready to go,” Chessher said. “Vista Ridge was hyped up and played extremely well, but we got some big plays that kept us in the game.”
One of those came early in the second quarter when Thomas sprinted 49 yards for his first touchdown, bringing Stony Point within 22-14.
Brown, who finished with 262 yards passing, threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game a short time later, this time connecting with Kwade Hegtvedt from the 8. But the Rangers only had one more notable drive the rest of the game as the Stony Point defense stepped up and Thomas and the Tigers offense took over.
“I’m getting older, and I told our guys I don’t know how many more of these I can go through,” Chessher joked. “I’m proud of our kids for playing four quarters and it feels good to be 6-0.”
Adkins may have summed things up best.
“We’re a four-quarter team,” he said. “We play for all four quarters and that’s what we’re known for at Stony Point.”