The A-JCHS Wildcats football team opened postseason action last Saturday with a 9-6 road win over host Fairfield. The accompanying photos are from Saturday’s game. Photos by Tiffiny Dillow for The Gazette-Democrat. A-J’s Dylan Fox looks for some running room.A-J linemen in action last Saturday included, in the white jerseys, Jade Gillis, Trenton Turner, Austin Dillow, D.J. Latham and Kyle McMahan.A-J’s Arieh Hart carries the ball against Fairfield.

Last-second field goal gives A-J playoff win

With 1.8 seconds remaining in a tie ball game, Sheldon McGrath kicked a 24-yard field goal to lift the Anna-Jonesboro Community High School football team to a 9-6 win over host Fairfield in first-round action of the Class 3A playoffs Saturday, Oct. 29.

“It’s something I felt confident in,” A-J football coach Brett Detering said. “I had no reservations about it. Fortunately, we were able to make that play when we needed to.”

Detering said a lot of extra time was spent in last Thursday’s practice on extra point and field goal attempts to further boost confidence in his kicker. 

The win boosted the Wildcats to an 8-2 record and a second-round playoff game at home against North Mac, 9-1, this Saturday. 

North Mac is a consolidated school located between Virden and Girard. Fairfield ended its season at 8-2 overall.

With a little over two minutes remaining in the game, the Wildcats took over at midfield following a Fairfield punt.

“Our kids ran out of bounds twice to stop the clock,” Detering said. “They knew they had to get in field goal range.”

With 4.8 seconds remaining, the Wildcats were in good field goal range. The Mules then used all their time outs to try and put added pressure on McGrath.

However, it didn’t work as the field goal became the first recorded by the Wildcats this season. 

Earlier in the final quarter on the first play with A-J holding a 6-0 advantage, the Wildcats were faced with a fourth down and long yardage situation at the Mules’ 20-yard line.

A field goal by the Wildcats was attempted and blocked and Jayden Lewis picked up the football and raced 75 yards for a touchdown. A pass for the extra point was incomplete and the score was knotted 6-6 with 11:43 remaining in the game.

“We had some snap issues,” Detering said. “We didn’t execute a very good snap.”

The Wildcats, who have been plagued with lost scoring opportunities this season near the goal line, were halted again on their first drive.

Driving the length of the field on an impressive drive and moving to the Mules’ 1-yard line, an off sides penalty moved the Wildcats back. A couple of plays later they were halted on a fourth down run.

“We’re not finding a way to punch it in,” Detering said. “We’re at a point in our season where were going to have to if we want to keep the season going.”

The Wildcats did have the biggest offensive play of the game in the second quarter.

Taking the ball deep in their own territory following a Mule punt, A-J quarterback Bryce Osman broke loose for a 67-yard run and was stopped short of the goal line on the 11-yard line after being tackled from behind by Fairfield’s Skylar Gray.

Two plays later, Jayce Turner scored on a 3-yard run.

A bad snap happened and the extra point kick was off and A-J held a 6-0 lead with 9:37 remaining in the second quarter.

Later in the quarter, the Wildcats’ Caleb Clover intercepted Fairfield quarterback Macklin Snyder’s pass to thwart a drive near midfield.

Osman made a nifty pass to Arieh Hart to move the Wildcats to the Mules’ 12-yard line when the first half concluded.

The Mules were held to 104 yards rushing and 51 yards passing.

“We gave up 51 yards passing, but by and large they completed the passes in front of us,” Detering said. “Our kids were in a position to make the plays.”

In the “second half they didn’t get across the 50 yard line. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to our special teams and defense. They pitched a shutout and (assistant/defensive coach) Mike  Eudy did a good job,” Detering said.

Osman was 2 of 6 passing for 42 yards and led A-J’s 263 yard rushing attack with 99 yards on 7 carries.

Jayce Turner added 82 yards on 28 carries. Trenton Turner had 43 yards on 11 carries. Caleb Clover had 32 yards on 6 carries.

“It was an exciting football game,” Detering said. “But unfortunately we didn’t make some plays we should have.”

The Gazette-Democrat

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Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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