HEMINGWAY — Most teams would have probably taken a knee, or called a conservative run at the most.
Da’Shaun Aiken’s throw from his own 30-yard line with time winding down appeared to be nothing more than a formality before an imminent overtime against Timmonsville. It was a desperate heave; a prayer, really.
Sometimes prayers are answered.
Aiken’s pass was intercepted deep down the field by Franklin King. But Shayton Durrand tackled King a couple steps later at the 20 and stripped the ball, allowing brother Shaquan Durrand to pick up the loose ball and run 20 yards into the end zone with no time remaining to give Carvers Bay an improbable 26-20 win.
“I picked that ball up and said, ‘Yes sir, we did it, man,’ ” Shaquan Durrand said. “I saw that ball drop and I had no choice but to make the play, and that’s what I did. That was big. That was real big. That was the biggest play of my high school career, baby.”
The win gave Carvers Bay (9-1, 5-0) the Region VII-A title over Timmonsville (8-2, 4-1) in the regular season finale for both teams.
“We got hosed,” Timmonsville coach Bill Tate said. “… There was no catch; he was down; there was all kinds of stuff. Good Lord, have mercy.
“… It’s no touchdown. It’s overtime and we’re still going on. It’s the fair way to do it, but anyway. I’ve been doing this for 34 or 35 years, I haven’t seen nothing like that.”
Timmonsville tied the game at 20 with 14 seconds remaining on a 1-yard King quarterback sneak after the Whirlwinds converted three fourth-and-1 situations on their final drive.
Carvers Bay needed a stop on a two-point conversion with 14 seconds remaining to remain tied, and it was Shaquan Durrand who tackled Brandon Hampton on a two-point conversion run.
Both teams are likely to be at home in the first round of the playoffs, though Timmonsville likley dropped a seed or two with the loss in Class A Division II and Carvers Bay will be among the top seeds in Division I.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow but we’ve got to move on,” Tate said. “We have to accept what happened. There’s no replay in high school football so it’s done.”
The Bears twice scored touchdowns on ensuing plays following turnovers in the third quarter to take leads.
A 23-yard touchdown pass from Aiken to Desmond Sumpter gave the Bears a 14-8 lead. Aiken rolled to his right and got the throw off just before he was hit, and Sumpter reached high with both hands to pull the pass down as he was falling backwards.
The touchdown was set up by Stefan Hannah’s sack of King, forced fumble and recovery.
After Timmonsville tied the game with 3 minutes to play in the third quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass from King to Keyshawn Munford, the Bears regained the lead on Shayton Durrand’s second touchdown reception of the game – a 19-yarder over the middle from Aiken. That score was set up by a fumble recovery by DaQuan Wilson.
The Bears struck first just 3 minutes into the game.
After Carvers Bay forced a three-and-out on Timmonsville’s opening possession, Devin Cuttino scored on a 34-yard run, taking the ball over the right side and cutting back to outrace defenders to the end zone. A 21-yard Aiken pass to Shayton Durrand helped the Bears go 73 yards in four plays on their opening possession.
Israel Davis converted a two-point conversion run after accepting a long direct snap to the left with most of the offensive line lined up to that side to put the Bears up 8-0.
Timmonsville recovered a fumble at the Carvers Bay 7 late in the first quarter, but a goal-line stand by Carvers Bay temporarily kept Timmonsville off the scoreboard. Brandon Hampton was stuffed up the middle on fourth down from inside the 2.
But the Whirlwinds began their next drive on the Bears’ 33 and converted the field position into a touchdown to tie the score. A 26-yard pass to the 1 on fourth-and-5 from King to Deshawn Harper set up 1-yard sneak by King, and King hit Calvin Fulmore on a two-point conversion pass to knot the game at 8.
Timmonsville’s defense also came up big inside its 10-yard line late in the second quarter after the Bears drove 76 yards to the 7 on the strength of a 21-yard run by Davis and Aiken passes of 24 and 26 yards to the Durrand brothers. Aiken threw three consecutive incompletions from the 6 to end the threat.
The Bears, who won state titles in 2002 and 2006 and have played for four in the past 11 seasons, earned their second region championship with the improbable win.
“It’s like a drowning man and at the last minute somebody sticks a pole down and he grabs it and he realizes he’s living again,” Bears coach Nate Thompson said. “We were lucky. We were in the right place at the right time.”
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.