Ball brings Bears back from brink against Martin

Ball brings Bears back from brink against Martin
Ball brings Bears back from brink against Martin | Martin Middle School, Dalton Turnbow, Tyler McClure, Panthers

With a little help — Martin’s Dalton Turnbow (right) provides a block for teammate Tyler McClure during the Panthers’ tough 14-12 road loss to Trenton on Thursday night. Photo by Joey Guest
With the last name of “Ball,” how could he not be a player?
Xavier Ball ran 24 times for 147 yards and a touchdown to lead the Trenton Middle Bears to a 14-12 victory over Martin Middle Thursday night in Trenton.
Ball carried 13 times for 86 yards in the first half, with his final carry being a 7-yard sprint to paydirt to cut the Panther lead to 12-8 in the final minute of the second quarter (following Jordan Johnson’s successful two-point conversion run).
Martin fullback Andrew Chavis was equally as impressive in the first half with 8 carries for 73 yards and a TD but only one run in the second half for 3 yards, while Ball led the Bears on a 59-yard drive to open the third stanza, which culminated with a 1-yard plunge to paydirt by Johnson at the two-minute mark to grab a 14-12 Trenton lead.
The Panthers appeared to regain the lead on their next possession when quarterback Jvon Cavitt made a dazzling 44-yard run, was hit at the 1-yard line and fumbled into the end zone, where teammate Collin Stricklin pounced on it for the go-ahead TD.
However, a holding penalty near midfield negated the play and eventually killed the drive.
It would not be the last time a yellow flag squashed the Panthers’ hopes of a comeback.
With time winding down, a last-second pass breakup by Ledrell Starnes on a fourth-and-eight attempt gave possession back to Martin at its own 19-yard line with 2:17 to play in regulation.
Two plays later, Cavitt threw a short pass to Chavis, who did the rest by breaking through tacklers for a 34-yard gain to the Bears’ 40.
But the cheers turned to groans as another penalty flag, this time for an ineligible receiver downfield, sent the Panthers back to their 21-yard line with little time remaining.
Three plays later, Trenton’s Jarred Penn picked off Cavitt’s desperation pass to seal the victory for the Bears.
The final moments were in stark contrast to the first 12 minutes when Trenton struggled, while good things seemed to go the Panthers’ way.
On Martin’s second possession of the game, Chavis needed just two touches to score as a 35-yard gain preceded a 23-yard jaunt to paydirt for a 6-0 lead with 47.6 seconds showing on the first-quarter clock.
On Trenton’s ensuing possession, three illegal-procedure calls and a 10-yard sack by Connor Simpson backed the Bears into a second-and-35 situation, which led to a punt attempt and an errant snap, which was recovered by Martin’s Blake Moore at the Trenton 10.
Three plays later, Starnes scored from the 3, and although the conversion run failed, Martin seemed in control with a 12-0 edge.
Ball carried six times in the Bears’ ensuing eight-play drive before capping it with a 7-yard TD with 47.4 seconds left in the half to cut their deficit in half, and then Johnson ran in the conversion to cut Martin’s lead to 12-8 to start Trenton’s comeback.
Counting a 31-yard pass reception, plus factoring in lost yardage by other team miscues, Ball not only out-gained Martin but his own team, as well. He finished with 178 total yards to his team’s 167.
Chavis’s 73 yards paced Martin’s 119 total, while Tyler McClure added 5 yards per carry (4-for-20) in his first start at halfback.
McClure also made several big stops on defense, as did Aaron Woods and Ryan Winston.
The Panthers fall to 1-4 on the season, while the Bears improve their record to 2-3.
Martin will hit the field next when it hosts Tigrett at 6:30 p.m., Thursday.
• Editor’s note: Joey Guest is an associate editor with Pressbox1.com. He can be reached at 731-332-1164 or via e-mail at joeyguest1@yahoo.com.

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