When the second quarter began, Baptist Hill, a perennial Class A football power, was preparing to punt the ball away.
The Bobcats were hoping their defense could keep the game scoreless in Friday's cold, rainy playoff game against Cross High.
Less than five minutes later, the Bobcats were down 20-0.
The Bobcats eventually responded with an epic rally, but it was too little too late for Baptist Hill (7-4), in their 34-26 loss to Cross (8-4). The loss gave the Bobcats their earliest exit in years from the Class A playoffs.
“It’s going to hurt for a while,” said Baptist Hill head coach Marion Brown. “But we have to take it and start getting ready for next season.”
It was uncharacteristic for Baptist Hill to put themselves in a 20-point hole that early in the game. The first six came when the Bobcats tried to punt the ball away on the first play of the second quarter. A botched snap gave Cross enough time to block the attempt and recover the ball in the end zone.
Less than three minutes later, Baptist Hill was punting again after a three and out, and the Trojans capitalized by punching it in for another TD.
Then, hard times fell on the Bobcats once more when the offense fumbled, leading to one more Trojan touchdown. They went into the locker room trailing, 20-0.
“We just had some early mistakes,” Brown said. “Too many errors and we came out sluggish.”
The Bobcats found life in the second half. The team drove the ball downfield smoothly on the opening drive, capped off with a touchdown run by running back Donnell Gathers.
Then, after forcing a fumble of their own, quarterback Darryle McKinley connected with Raequon Holmes for a 30-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Trojan lead to 20-12.
Baptist Hill completed the third quarter comeback when McKinley unleashed a deep bomb this time to Terrance Brown, scoring for the third time of the quarter. After a successful two-point conversion, the game was tied at 20 apiece.
“I told them we need to focus and get back to playing Baptist Hill football,” Brown said about his halftime speech. “And we responded well, but we waited a little too late.”
Much like the second quarter, the fourth belonged to Cross. The team scored again midway through the final quarter, and tacked on another TD after another Baptist Hill fumbled.
Quarterback DeAndre Brown finished with two rushing scores for Cross, and added one more touchdown on a 21-yard pass to Xavier Gattis.
“We got to the football and were able to get those turnovers,” said Shaun Wright, the head coach of the Trojans. “I’m very proud of our efforts and you need that anytime Cross and Baptist Hill play each other.”
The Trojans will play Lake View next week in the third round of the playoffs.