James Clemens 21, Vestavia Hills 20 Final | Friday - November 8, 2019 | Class 7A 1st Round Playoff Game
WR #8 Chris Hope (James Clemens) on the game winning two point conversion
MADISON, Alabama -- The JC Comeback! Call it the greatest comeback in James Clemens football history as the Jets get the trilling 21-20 comeback win over Vestavia Hills in the Class 7A playoffs. Trailing 20-7 with 6:06 left in the game, James Clemens scores two touchdown and a 2-point conversion with only :28 seconds left in the game to survive and advance and host powerhouse Hoover next week at the Madison City School Stadium next Friday night.
James Clemens (9-2) scored on a Connor Cantrell to Chris Hope 51-yard touchdown long toss on a fourth and long play to cut the Vestavia Hills lead to 20-13 with 6:06 left in the game. Vestavia Hill moved the ball down the field but was intercepted by defensive back Tyrone Wilson and he gave the Jets one more scoring opportunity.
The Jets moved down the field helped by a roughing the passer call by the Rebels and a few runs and a catch by Dylan Blackburn to setup the last touchdown. With :28 seconds left in the game, Cantrell found Hope in the middle of the end zone for a Jet score to cut the Vestavia Hills lead to 20-19 and James Clemens had a decision to make on the extra point. They could go with the extra point attempt and overtime or go for two and the win. "We lived on the edge," said Jets QB Cantrell. "You live by the three ball and die by the three ball. I can't believe this. I'm having a hard time putting this into words. What a great comeback."
After a timeout, the Jets made their decision to go for the two-point conversion and the win. As Cantrell rolls to his right, he throws back to the middle of the end zone where Hope was waiting for the football. As the ball arrived in the air, a Rebels defender interfered on the pass but Hope came down with the ball and a Jets first ever 7A playoff win. "I saw the safety but I knew the ball was coming to me," said Jets WR Hope. "I saw the ball and felt the DB hit me and then felt the ball hit my stomach so I told myself to just squeeze the ball, squeeze the ball and that is what I did."
Vestavia Hills (7-4) scored on their first possession of the game. A long pass play by Eli Sawyer to Charlie Hughes setup the first touchdown. On the next play, Sawyer hit Hughes on a 14-yard touchdown pass play and the Rebels took an early 7-0 lead with 9:52 left in the first quarter. On the next possession for the Jets, they drive deep into Rebel territory but was turned away on downs at the 2-yard line and Vestavia Hills kept their 7-0 lead.
Late in the second quarter, Devon Hadaway blocked a Vestavia Hills punt deep into Rebels territory to setup the Jets first score of the game. With 5:59 left in the half, Blackburn scores on a 6-yard touchdown run and the game was tied at 7-7. With 2:30 left in the half, Vestavia Hills responds back with a touchdown on a Sawyer to Wells Watts 13-yard pass play in the corner of the end zone. With the score, the Rebels retake the lead and go into halftime by leading 14-7. James Clemens had a 43-yard field goal come up short as time expired right at the half. "I saw our kids lay it one the line," said Rebels head coach Buddy Anderson. "We made to many mistakes against a good football team. They came up with some big plays in the fourth quarter and we didn't. I liked the way our kids battled and the way we competed this season. If this is the hardest thing they have to battle in life, then they are going to have a great life."
With 6:52 left in the fourth quarter, Vestavia Hills scored a big touchdown on a Jake Levant 2-yard run but the Rebels missed the extra point but led 20-7 late in the game. But that is where the James Clemens offense started to get it into gear. "Whatever the pace started getting better on offense," said Jets head coach Wade Waldrop. "Proud of our guys. This thing started a long time ago I told them in the locker room. Being down having a lot of adversity and finding a way to win, I'm very proud of our players."
Sawyer completed 12-of-24 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions on the night. "I just can't believe this is my last Vestavia ballgame ever," said Rebels QB Sawyer. "It was a pressure playing with the guys every single game growing up together. God gave me the opportunity to go out there and throw the ball. I thought we moved the ball pretty good but had a couple of costly turnovers. We haven't been to the playoffs in a long time so I thing we set a good foundation for this team to keep going to the playoffs. I'm really proud of this team. I really love these guys."
For James Clemens, Blackburn took the load of the offense for the first three quarters as he rushed for 121 yards on 31 carries and a touchdown on the night. Cantrell was 12-of-29 passing for 130 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite receiver was Hope who had eight receptions for 133 yards and the two touchdowns.
James Clemens rides a 9-game winning streat and will host Hoover next week who won 21-3 over Sparkman.