By Ed Greif
Jordan Buckner's 10-yard pass to Zakk King with 35.2 seconds left in the game gave the Cumberland County High School Jets a 41-35 come from behind win over District 6AAA foe Warren County.
Buckner's TD pass capped a four-play, 28-yard drive rallied the Jets from a 29-7 first-half deficit for the school's first home league win since a 34-16 win over Warren County on Sept. 2, 2011.
"We got a big turnover when Seth Randall made the pick," said Coach Ted McCaslin after his team finished the season at 2-8 and 1-4 in the district. "Hopefully, this will carry into the off-season. I am proud to be a Jet."
Randall's interception set up the final scoring drive, part of a three TD flurry in the final 7:50 of the contest.
On the TD play, Warren County was whistled for three personal foul penalties, including a player ejection, allowing the Jets to kick off from the Pioneer 15-yard line.
The Pioneers took the Jet kick at their five-yard line, needing to go 95 yards for the winning score. Pioneer quarterback Hunter Mullican passed 15 yards to D'Andre League to the 20-yard line for a first down. After an incomplete pass and a penalty to the 15-yard line, Mullican hit League for a 13-yard pass. The Jet defense led by Colton Dykes forced a fumble, with Kobe Cox recovering to secure the Jets the win.
A small senior night crowd saw the Pioneers take the opening kick a their 38-yard line and drive the distance in nine plays to take a 6-0 lead on a seven-yard pass from Mullican to Lee Carden with 7:56 left in the quarter. The PAT made it 7-0.
After holding the Jets to three-plays and out, the Pioneers took over at midfield and drove the distance six plays to take a 13-0 lead on a one-yard run by Darilus Wright. The PAT made it 14-0 with 4:05 left in the game.
Another three and out by the Jets gave the ball back to the Pioneers at the Warren County 46. Using the running of Cameron Lusk and the passing of Mullican, the visitors moved the ball to the Jet two-yard line as the first quarter ended.
On the first play of the second quarter, Mullican passed to Drew Davidson for a 20-0 lead. The PAT made it 21-0.
After several posession changes, the Jets took over at midfield. After Buckner was stopped for a five-yard loss, he completed two passes to A.J. Dick — one for nine yards and the other a 46-yarder for a TD with 4:20 left in the half. Gene Cravens booted the PAT to slice the Pioneer advantage to 21-7.
Warren County took over at the 38, started the drive, but Dykes picked off Mullican to stop the drive; however, the Jets were stopped on downs at midfield.
The Pioneers drove the distance in five plays to score on a 37-yard pass from Mullican to League as time expired in the first half. Davidson passed to League for the two-point conversion for a 29-7 lead.
"I wasn't happy at the half. I told them they have another half to go and do everything right and keep your mouths shut. We rode them hard," said McCaslin.
CCHS had just 74 total yards in the first half on 11 of 17 passes for 78 yards and minus four yards rushing on 10 carries.
Warren County rushed for 74 yards rushing on 19 carries and completed 14 of 19 passes for 181 yards with one interception.
The Jets started the second half on the wrong foot, fumbling the ball at the 35-yard line on their second play of the series, but the Jet defense held the Pioneers to three plays and out.
Starting at the Jet 24, Buckner completed two more passes, a 6-yarder to King and a 27-yarder to Dick, to put the ball at the Jet 47; however the Pioneer defense held the Jets on downs at the Pioneer 49.
Four plays later, Tyler Norris picked off Mullican to the Pioneer 41-yard line.
On third and 19, Buckner hit Dick for a 30-yard gain to the Pioneer 20, but a penalty added 10 more yards on the play to the 10-yard line.
On first and 15 after a penalty, Buckner passed the distance to Dick for a TD. Cravens' PAT made it 29-14.
The Jet defense led by Dylan Oakes and Chace Marshall held the Pioneers to three-plays and out; however, Buckner was picked off by Carden.
Again, the Jet defense led by Norris, Tyler Cantrell and Cox stopped the Pioneers and forced another punt.
When the Jets took over at their 15, Buckner took to the air, completing three straight passes, a 16-yarder to Holt and two passes for 76 yards to Dykes, including a 61-yarder for a TD with 11:47 left in the fourth quarter. Cravens' PAT made 29-21.
Warren County took the ensuing kick at their 24 and drove the distance in eight plays to take a 35-21 lead on a 26-pass from Mullican to Park Hilliard. The PAT was no good with 7:50 left in the game.
As Lee Corso says, "not so fast."
From the Jet 35-yard line, Buckner completed three passes — a six-yarder to Dick, a four-yarder to Holt and a 24-yarder to Dykes — for a first and goal at the one. Buckner scored from the one to slice the lead to 35-27. Cravens' PAT made it 35-28 with 6:38 left in the game.
The Jets offensive line of Reed Shaw, Tyler Hoskins, James Valliclllo, Matt Vaughn and Cox gave Buckner the chance to throw all night.
Again, the Jets held the Pioneers to three plays and out, and took over at the Jet 23-yard line.
The Jets took over a their 23 and marched the distance in nine plays, aided by another Pioneer penalty, capped by Buckner's five-yard run. Cravens' PAT tied the game at 35-35 with 2:43 left in the contest.
Warren County took over at their 37-yard line and moved the ball into Jet territory, but Randall's 50-yard interception return to Jet 28-yard line to set up the winning drive.
On an incomplete pass from Buckner to Ty Tabor, Warren County was whistled for another penalty, giving the Jets first and goal at the 10-yard line. Two plays later, Buckner hit King for the winning score, but Craven's PAT was no good.
After the failed PAT, the officials stepped off the three 15-yard penalties, forcing CCHS to kick off at the Pioneer 15. The Jet defense held, securing the Jets' second win of the season.
Buckner completed 29 of 45 passes for 343 yards with four TDs and one interception. Dick had 10 catches for 186 yards, and Dykes had three catches for 98 yards. CCHS rushed for 10 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns.
Leading the Jet defense were Norris, Dick, Oakes, Cox, Randall, Marshall, Cantrell, Nolan McClain, Daniel Richards, Nathan Blaylock and Holt.
"It was great to see the kids storm the field after the game," concluded McCaslin on a night when 60 seniors from the football, volleyball, bowling, girls soccer, golf and volleyball teams, the band and cheerleaders were recgnized.