Sometimes the scoreboard just doesn’t tell the story.
Friday night in Stuart, Patrick County lost to William Campbell 38-12, but the Cougars did not play 26 points worse than the Generals.
Down 12-0 with 12 seconds left in the first half, the Cougars got the ball back at their own 38 yard line. Frankie LaComa, who made his season debut Friday night after serving a two-game suspension dating back to last season, dropped back to pass and floated one down the left sideline for Josh Cockram. Cockram made the grab and scored on a 62 yard catch-and-run to make it 12-6 with three seconds left.
The Cougars then kicked a squib kick down the left sideline and jumped on it at the Generals’ 21, and had three seconds to get back in the end zone. LaComa again hit Cockram and the Cougars went from down 12-0 to being tied up at 12-12 in a matter of 12 seconds of game action.
“We’ve been working that (long pass) play for a while now and it’s something that we felt confident looking at their defense going in,” said Patrick County Head Coach David Morrison. “We said, ‘okay, this has a chance to pop open,’ and we knew we had a shot at it. There at the end with the kick, we said we’ve got a shot. We’re getting the ball back in the second half anyway, let’s go ahead and take a shot and our kicker delivered. He did exactly what he was supposed to do and our guys, they did exactly what they’re supposed to do on kickoff. They went down and they covered and we got it back. We knew we had one play left and we had the right play called.”
An early fumble by the Cougars in the third quarter led to William Campbell taking back the lead at 18-12 with 11:03 left in the third quarter. After Cockram recorded his second interception of the game, a seven-play drive was halted after what looked to be an incomplete pass out of the hands of LaComa. At the Campbell 26-yard-line, the ball was jumped on by William Campbell after about three seconds of the ball just laying on the ground with players assuming it was an incomplete pass. The referees claimed it was a backwards lateral and a fumble and the Generals reclaimed possession.
On the ensuing drive, the exact same thing happened, but in reverse. William Campbell’s quarterback, Jermiah Smith, swung a pass out to his running back who dropped the clear forward pass. It hit the ground, bounced back into his hands and he ran nearly untouched 27 yards for a back-breaking touchdown.
It was a clear missed call, especially because the ruling was that he did not drop the ball, and that was compounded by the fact that they just missed the exact same call for Patrick County. The play completely swung the game around at that point. The Patrick County called fumble was with 4:37 left in the third quarter and the William Campbell touchdown came 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, nine plays after the original mistake.
Morrison wasn’t going to attack the officiating, but it appeared the refereeing had a clear impact on the way the game played out.
Instead of bashing the officiating, Morrison praised his team for the effort they showed for 48 minutes and through the first three games of the season.
“Every week they’re giving everything they’ve got and we can’t ask for anything more,” he said. “These guys are pouring it all out there, they’re laying it all out on the line and they’re playing tough football… People in the stands might not see it, but as coaches we see it. We’re getting better every week. Every snap of the football we’re getting better.”
Just look at Friday night’s game. Last season, William Campbell rolled to a 53-7 win over Patrick County. In the end, the Generals outgained the Cougars 381-193 yards with a 19-play advantage (62 to 43). In last year’s matchup, William Campbell racked up nearly 430 yards of total offense in just 40 offensive plays.
LaComa started the game with a 29-yard designed quarterback run, and the energy that was displayed by the quarterback and the rest of the team after scoring 12 points in 12 seconds was a feeling Cougar fans haven’t felt in a long time.
“Not taking anything away from (sophomore Will) Sprowl, he’s done an awesome job, he’s just a young guy and he’s still learning and growing and I have no doubt in my mind he’s going to be that guy, but Frankie just brings that senior leadership,” Morrison said. “He’s got a lot of poise. In situations where things get tough he’s the guy you’d like pulling the trigger.”
The breakout star for Patrick County had to be senior receiver/safety Josh Cockram. Cockram had two interceptions deep in his own territory. The first was a leaping interception over the receiver in the endzone, saving a touchdown. The second came right before the game was swung by the ill-advised Campbell TD. He also hauled in three catches for 103 yards and had both Cougar touchdowns.
“The kid never gets enough credit. He’s never gotten enough credit,” Morrison said of Cockram. “He’s an amazing athlete and he just does it all the things right. He works hard, he’s worked hard all summer, all spring and going to camps and everything… He’s subtle, but he gets the job done.”
The record says 0-3, but Morrison isn’t worried about the record. He knows his team has taken strides and is better than what that and the scoreboards have read. And it was clear Friday night that he and his coaching staff have things going in the right direction. The active roster for Friday’s game had 29 healthy players for the Cougars. Of those 29, seven are seniors, seven are juniors and the rest are freshmen or sophomores.
“We’ve got some young guys who love football and are working hard and we’ve got some older guys who absolutely love this team and are giving everything they’ve got,” he said. “The record is kind of the last thing I want to even think about. All we’re focused on is every snap getting better, every day in practice we get better and at the end of the year this is going to be a completely different animal.”
The Cougars will stay home and will now prepare for rival North Stokes on Homecoming next Friday night at 7 p.m.
“Every week we get to play under the lights is a blessing and this week it didn’t work out the way we wanted to. We actually improved, but next week, this is a little bit of a rivalry for us and we love having these guys around to have that close rivalry,” Morrison said. “We live and breathe both sides of this line, both teams I guess, and it’s just built itself into a pretty good rivalry.
“We know that we’re going to have a very, very tough matchup on Friday and we’re just happy that we get to come back here to the Cougar Den and play under the lights on Friday night.”
William Campbell 38, Patrick County 12
WC – 0 12 6 20 – 38
PC – 0 12 0 0 – 12
No scoring plays
WC – 11:49 – James Boyd 38 yard pass from Jermiah Smith (2 point fail)
WC – 3:40 – J. Boyd 1 yard rush (2 point fail)
PC – 0:03 – Josh Cockram 62 yard pass from Frankie LaComa (PAT miss)
PC – 0:00 – J. Cockram 21 yard pass from F. LaComa (PAT miss)
WC – 11:03 – J. Smith 18 yard rush (2 point fail)
WC – 11:20 – Jordan Young 27 yard pass from J. Smith (Ian Watson kick)
WC – 6:47 – J. Boyd 16 yard pass from J. Smith (PAT miss)
WC – 3:50 – J. Young 2 yard rush (Watson kick)
William Campbell statistics
Rushing: J. Smith 15 for 86, TD; J. Young 11 for 77, TD; J. Boyd 12 for 57, TD
Passing: J. Smith 12/24 for 161, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
Receiving: J. Boyd 4 for 67, 2 TDs; Nikia Peerman 4 for 46; J. Young 3 for 39, TD; Isaac Jennings 1 for 9
Patrick County statistics
Rushing: Will Sprowl 7 for 41; Dae Shawn Penn 9 for 33; Frankie LaComa 14 for 23
Passing: F. LaComa 5/9 for 120, 2 TDs, INT; W. Sprowl 0/1
Receiving: Josh Cockram 3 for 103, 2 TDs; Garrett Worley 1 for 15; Chase Jessup 1 for 2