By JOEL McNEECE
Trailing 14-13 with 46 seconds to play on their own 32 yard line, the Vardaman Rams showed no quit. QB Cody Jenkins unleashed a deep pass down the right sideline which Damon Johnson snatched out of the air, shaking off two Bruce Trojan defenders in the process, before ultimately being tackled at the 2-yard line. Jenkins took the shotgun snap on the next play and darted up the middle for the game-winning touchdown with barely 30 seconds left on the clock.
By JOEL McNEECE
Trailing 14-13 with 46 seconds to play on their own 32 yard line, the Vardaman Rams showed no quit.
Ram QB Cody Jenkins unleashed a deep pass down the right sideline which Damon Johnson snatched out of the air, shook off two Bruce Trojan defenders and raced down the sideline for a 66-yard gain before ultimately being tackled at the 2-yard line.
Jenkins took the shotgun snap on the next play and darted up the middle for the game-winning touchdown with barely 30 seconds left on the clock.
“This is the biggest win ever for these kids,” said an exuberant Justin Hollis, head coach of the Rams. “These kids, they just play so hard. They do everything you ask of them.”
The 19-14 comeback victory for the Rams improved their record to 2-0 heading into this week’s home game with East Webster.
“This was just an incredible win,” Senior WR?Damon Johnson said. “The biggest of my career.”
Johnson finished the game with eight catches for 242 yards and a touchdown. He intercepted Bruce QB Davis Brown on the Trojans’ last desperation play to salt the game away.
“Damon is a testament to second chances,” Hollis said of his star receiver who was dismissed from the team last year due to disciplinary reasons. “He got his self right and is making the most of his opportunity.”
Johnson said he was dedicating the game to his grandmother who is suffering with cancer.
“I played my heart out for her,” he said.
When asked about the 66-yard bomb in the closing seconds that set up the game winning touchdown, Johnson said it was all a matter of desire.
“I had to get that football for my quarterback,” Johnson said. “I told him to just put it out there and I’d get it.”
Jenkins was equally dominant in the game completing 11 of 23 passes for 272 yards, three interceptions and a touchdown. He also ran for 51 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
“He’s the best quarterback in the county,” Hollis said. “I wouldn’t trade him for another quarterback in Mississippi.”
The Trojans were their worst enemies on the night with six turnovers and 10 penalties. Four of the turnovers occurred in Vardaman territory.
The Trojan passing game never got off the ground with Sophomore QB Davis Brown completing two of 15 attempts for 22 yards and two interceptions.
Shaq Bush, the Trojans’ leading receiver and rusher entering the game, finished with no catches and only six yards rushing on two carries.
“You can’t turn the ball over six times and expect to beat anybody,” Bruce Coach James Ray said. “The last two weeks have been heart-wrenching defeats – real character testers. We’ve got to focus on ourselves, regroup and go after it again.”
After a scoreless first half, the Trojans cracked the scoreboard first after a punt return by Bush, aided by a facemask penalty on the Rams that put Bruce at the Vardaman 15-yard line.
Four plays later, Demetrius Evans, who finished with 80 yards on 11 carries, dove across the goal line from three yards out.
Grey Tedford’s extra point put the Trojans in front 7-0 with just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Rams answered early in the fourth when Jenkins hit Johnson with a 55-yard strike on a post pattern right over the top of the Trojan defense.
Dylan Landreth added the extra point to tie the game at seven.
Bruce immediately responded with a 63-yard scoring drive.
Evans had the biggest play – a 44-yard run deep into Ram territory. He punched in the touchdown on a 10-yard scamper a few plays later.
Tedford’s extra point put the Trojans back in front 14-7 with 8:42 to play in the game.
Trojan Senior defensive back Tiny Moore, who had two interceptions in the game, broke up a fourth down pass on the Rams’ ensuing possession that appeared to put the Trojans in position to win the game.
But the Ram defense stood firm and forced a Trojan punt after only three plays.
Bruce punter Codie McMahan was then tackled in the backfield at the 25-yard line after a bad exchange on the snap.
Five plays later, Jenkins carried the ball across the goal line from four yards out for the potential game-tying touchdown with 2:15 to play. Landreth’s extra point, however, sailed wide left to keep the Trojans in front 14-13.
The Rams opted to kickoff deep and use their timeouts and it paid off.
The Trojans were forced to punt after three successive two yard runs by Evans, setting up the final heroics when the Rams got the ball back at their own 32 yard line in the closing minute.
“We’re outmanned every time and we just keep battling,” Hollis said. “I just can’t say enough for these kids.”
The loss drops the Trojans to 0-2 on the season after an overtime loss to Water Valley the opening week. They will host Ackerman Friday at 7:30 p.m.