C J O’Neil said he had a few options left in his bag of tricks.
“We have a couple more,” the Cardinal Hayes coach said. “I was joking around with coach [Craig] Joseph that we might have to start recycling the rest of the game. There was nothing to leave in the bag today.”
O’Neil watched as his team perfectly executed a reverse for a 73-yard touchdown run by Bryant McAdoo and a well-run hook-and-ladder play that led to a 70-yard scoring run for Syracuse-bound running back Jeramiah Kobena to pull the Cardinals within six points in the third quarter.
“Some of the basic plays we ran earlier in the year we ran them once,” senior Gallo Henson said. “[Mount] got too much pressure. They would have worked, but the coaches wanted to go with the trick plays.”
Hayes fell one big play shy of completing the comeback. Mount’s Gary Acquah sacked quarterback Kwamayne Davis twice with less than 1:30 left to seal a 28-22 win for the host Mountaineers in the CHSFL Class AA title game and the rivals’ 67th annual Turkey Bowl Thursday morning. No. 6 Hayes broke No. 2 Mount’s 28-year winning streak last season.
“They came up a little short today,” O’Neil, who was proud of his team’s fight, said. … “One score away. Could we have gotten another score? I’m sure someplace.”
McAdoo’s touchdown run cut the Mount (5-5) lead to 21-15 at the half, but things quickly swung back the Mountaineers way. Henson mishandled a snap on a punt deep in the Cardinals end and was tackled running in the backfield. It set up an 18-yard scoring run by Mount quarterback Jaylen Amaker to extend the lead to 28-15 with 7:11 left in the third quarter.
Kobena was held in check outside of his long touchdown run to get Hayes (8-2) back within six early in the fourth. Davis was picked off three times in the first half and McAdoo dropped a sure touchdown pass up the right sideline in the second quarter.
“We wanted to bring that back this year,” Kobena said of the Turkey Bowl trophy. “We were gonna. We just didn’t execute at all.”
They also had to deal with an emotionally charged team, as Mount was playing in memory of teammate Kyle Rembert, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning on November 7.
Acquah, who rushed for two touchdown and his teammates, which won four straight, were determined win for him.