The UTV 44 Friday Night Rivals was across the bay for the Battle of the Eastern Shore and another year’s bragging rights between the Daphne Trojans and the Fairhope Pirates.
Early in the first quarter saw both teams’ trade offensive possessions and punting the ball away, but late in the quarter Fairhope had the ball and looked to be driving when sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard, who got the start in place of senior Devin Mitchell, took off for an 18 yard run. The drive would end up stalling, but on the punt attempt senior running back Damell Bell took the snap and rushed downfield 40 yards for the 1st down and more. But then on the first play of the 2nd quarter Leonard was picked off by junior linebacker Hamilton Baker at the Daphne 20 yard line.
The Trojans could not convert the turnover into any points and would end up punting the ball away again. On the ensuing drive, Leonard would help the Pirates offense again, this time with a 53 yard rush into Trojan territory. The Trojan defense made a stand and kept the Pirates out of the end zone, though junior kicker Sam Rayburn did make a 27 yard field goal to give Fairhope a 3-0 lead with just less than 10 minutes left in the 1st half.
Daphne’s offense still could not generate any momentum and would once again have to punt the ball back to the Pirates. On the next drive Fairhope’s Leonard hooked up with sophomore receiver Ramone Bradley for a 39 yard reception which would get moved back following an unsportsmanlike penalty against Bradley. The drove would stall but not before Fairhope’s Rayburn would come on the attempt a 45 yard field goal. The attempt was no good and Fairhope’s 3-0 lead would hold going into halftime.
Daphne would get the ball to start the 2nd half, but just like every possession during the 1st half, they would have to punt away the ball. Fairhope would start their drive on the Daphne 31 yard line following the punt. Senior receiver Jackson Turner moved the Pirates downfield quickly by catching a 22 yard catch to inside the Trojans’ 10 yard line. Bell would cap the 31 yard drive by finding the end zone from 5 yards out. The PAT was good and the Pirates extended their lead 10-0 over Daphne with just over 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The next possession following the Fairhope touchdown would finally see the Trojan offense move down field on the Pirates. Sophomore quarterback Trent Battle would lead the way when he ripped off a 34 yard run. Senior receiver C.J. Young would be next taking in a catch that would pick up a 1st down for the Trojans, but as what happened earlier against Fairhope, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The drive would end up stalling and Daphne brought in senior kicker Diego Guajardo to attempt a 51 yard field goal. The kick was not good and Fairhope held on to their 10-0 lead over Daphne with just over 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
Fairhope took over possession after the missed field goal and quickly got down field on the back off Bell. First he ran a 51 yard run to get down to the 16 yard line, then he ripped off a 17 yard run to get down to the Daphne 1 yard line. Fairhope brought in junior running back Braxton Jordan and he capped the 76 yard drive with a 1 yard touchdown run. The PAT was good and Fairhope extended their lead 17-0 over Daphne with just under 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
Daphne still looking to get on the board, senior receiver Donte Lee helped lead the way by pulling in a 50 yard catch from Battle to get the Trojans in Fairhope territory. Daphne got all the way down to the Fairhope 7 yard line and stalled. Facing a 4th down with 1 yard to go, Battle dropped back and found senior Christian Williams in the corner of the end zone for an eight yard touchdown catch. The PAT was good and Daphne cut the lead 17-7 with just under three minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Fairhope offenses started struggling on moving the ball as the Trojans did in the 1st half, and were forced to punt away giving the Trojans an opportunity to cut the lead again. Looking to spark the offense senior quarterback Gage Bonner had come in to take some snaps but on a play at midfield he was hit and fumbled the ball, and luckily the Trojans were able to recover it back. Battle would end up coming back in during the drive and he would finish the drive when he found the end zone on his own from 6 yards out. He would end up with 12 carries for 124 yards on the night. The PAT was good and now Fairhope’s lead was down to three with the score being 17-14 with just over 8 minutes left in the game.
Following another punt by the Pirates, the Trojans got the ball back with just 6:10 left in the game needing either a field goal to tie or a touchdown to take their first lead of the night. Junior receiver Darius Johnson put Daphne in a position to score following a 27 yard catch from Battle. Trent was 17 out of 25 for 131 yards and the 1 touchdown. The drive would end up stalling after that catch and Daphne brought in Guajardo in for the 51 yard field goal attempt. With just over three minutes left in the game, Guajardo cleared the uprights and tied the game 17-17.
Daphne would get the ball one more time at the end of the 4th quarter. Battle ran for a 14 yard pick up with 5.6 seconds left on the clock. Guajardo came out for a 56 yard field goal attempt to win the game, but the snap was bad and field goal was no good. The game was still tied 17-17 at the end of regulation.
The Trojans would get the ball for the 1st overtime possession; the Pirate defense made their stand and kept them out of the end zone forcing them to a field goal attempt. Guajardo again came in the try and take the lead, this time from 27 yards out, the snap was good but the kick was not. Fairhope would get the ball for their possession only needing a field goal to win. Rayburn, who made a 27 yarder in the 1st quarter, was called on for a 32 yard attempt. The snap was good and the kick cleared the uprights giving the Pirates the 20-17 victory in overtime over Daphne.
Daphne falls to 2-3 on the year, and must prepare to host Baldwin County as they get ready to finish the 2nd half of their region schedule as they already have two region losses.
The Pirates improve to 4-2 on the year as they now prepare to host Baker and continue their region play which includes an end of the year meeting with McGill-Toolen.
Tune in this Friday for the UTV44 Friday Night Rivals as we stay across the bay as the #10 ranked St. Paul’s Saints make their 1st trip to The Hill since 2012 as they look to try and stay unbeaten against the #3 ranked Spanish Fort Toros, kick off will be 7PM on UTV44.