GAME 11:  ST. JAMES 22, @ Ashford 20

STJ             9       3       7       3           22

ASH            7       7       6       0           20


ASH  (1)  9:14   Dawsey 31 interception return                    (Dawsey kick)     0 -   7
STJ   (1)  4:05   Stansfield 30 FG                                                                    3 -   7
STJ   (1)    :00   Ward 4 run                                                    (kick failed)     9 -   7
ASH  (2)  8:55   R. Melton 24 run                                        (Dawsey kick)     9 - 14
STJ   (2)    :05   Stansfield 32 FG                                                                  12 - 14
STJ   (3)  3:29   Roberts 16 pass from Gantt                     (Stansfield kick)   19 - 14
ASH  (3)  3:09   R. Melton 88 run                                             (run failed)   19 - 20
STJ   (4)  6:54   Stansfield 23 FG                                                                   22 - 20

November 7, 2003.    W.H. Brown Field    Game Conditions:  Clear, comfortable   Game Temperature 70  Wind:  Light  N  0-5

Will Stansfield successfully kicked each of his three field goal attempts, Chris Roberts made an amazing catch on a Brett Gantt touchdown pass, and the Trojans forced six turnovers in a rather sloppy game with an amazingly exciting, and perhaps somewhat controversial finish.  A potential game-winning field goal with 4 seconds remaining failed, and St. James hung on for their first road playoff win in 17 years (9 attempts), defeating the 9th ranked and Region 2 champion Ashford Yellow Jackets 22-20 in Ashford in the first round of the 2003 Alabama High School Athletic Association 4A State Playoffs.

St. James failed to convert a first down on their initial drive of the game.  A long pass and run gave Ashford the ball on the Trojan 29 on their first play from scrimmage.  After a loss and a penalty, Chris Roberts intercepted a Jacket pass at the 18 yard line and returned it to the Trojan 40.  However, on the very next play, Yellow Jacket Travanno Dawsey read a flanker screen attempt beautifully.  He stepped in, intercepted the ball, and sped 31 yards untouched into the endzone.  He then converted his own extra point for a 7-0 Ashford lead less than three minutes into the game.

For the last two games, St. James bucked its propensity in earlier games to strike often, but quickly, and lose the time of possession battle.  However, on this night where the Trojans more than doubled time of possession and ran 75 offensive plays to Ashford's 33, St. James ground out tough yardage time and time again through the Ashford defensive line.  After the Yellow Jacket kickoff sailed out of bounds, Ted Brewer ran for two first downs and Brett Gantt completed one of his only 3 successful passes in the first half (of 18 tries) to Taylor Nelson for 15 yards and another first down.  The drive was extended three plays later on a defensive pass interference penalty on a fourth down and 14 attempt.  From there, St. James could only manage one yard on the next three plays, and Will Stansfield was called in to kick.  His field goal from 30 yards was high and straight and just cleared the crossbar by a few feet, but was good and the Trojans had cut the lead to 7-3.

Two plays later, Ashford committed their second of six turnovers.  From the Jacket 33, Gantt converted two first downs on quarterback keepers.  On third down and three from the Yellow Jacket 4, Matt Ward took a handoff wide and dove just into the endzone as the quarter time horn was blaring.  Stansfield's extra point attempt was wide, but at the end of the first quarter, St. James had their first lead of the game at 9-7.

Ashford drove into Trojan territory again, but Will Thrasher intercepted a pass at the Trojan 11.  However, two plays later, Demetrius Melton returned the favor for the Jackets, intercepting at the Trojan 34 and returning 10 yards.  On the next play, Reginald Melton took the handoff around right end, avoided early traffic, and pulled away from tacklers as he snuck into the corner of the endzone for a touchdown.  Dawsey's kick again was true, and Ashford regained the lead at 14-9, still early in the second quarter.

St. James converted one first down, but was forced to punt.  Ted Brewer's punt was high but short, and an upman caught the ball on the fly.  However, Trojans swarmed him and Webb Chastain grabbed the ball and simply wrestled it away from the receiver returning possession to St. James.  Three plays later, Gantt converted a third down and was awarded 15 extra yards on a face mask penalty to the Jacket 24.  However, from the 17, a no gain on fourth and three turned the ball over on downs.  The Trojan defense stiffened and held Ashford to a 3 and out and forced a punt with time fading in the half.  A penalty on the return moved the ball back to the Trojan 37.  On first down, Gantt lifted a pass to a wide open Will Thrasher who cruised down the sidelines for a 45 yard gain and the Trojans were in business again at the Jacket 18.  After a short gain and two incomplete passes, Stansfield was called on again and converted a 32 yard field goal (a career long) just before halftime, and St. James cut the margin to 2, at 14-12.  The Trojans tried and actually recovered an onside squib kick, but could not convert from the 41 yard line on the last play of the half.

Each team was three and out and forced to punt on their opening second half drives.  On Ashford's second drive, Will Thrasher picked off his second pass of the game and returned it four yards to the Trojan 47.  From there, it was Brewer time.  Ted Brewer took the handoff on seven consecutive running plays, gaining 4, 5, 13, 2, 9, 3, and 1 yards.  On third down from the Ashford 16, Gantt lifted a pass over the middle to Chris Roberts who made perhaps the catch of the year on an outstanding one handed grab at knee level at the goal line between three converging Ashford defenders for a Trojan touchdown.  Stansfield's extra point this time was good, and St. James was again back in front at 19-14 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.

After the ensuing kickoff was muffed and only returned to the 12 yard line, it appeared the Trojans had all the momentum.  They did, for about 10 seconds.  On first down, Reginald Melton took the handoff on the same play on which he had scored from 24 yards earlier, broke through the line and secondary, and cruised for his second touchdown, this one of 88 yards.  With a one point lead, the Jackets opted to go for two, but Demetrius Melton was stopped a yard short of the endzone on the conversion.  However, the lead had changed hands again to Ashford's favor at 20-19.

The next drive may have been the Trojans' drive of the year.  After a penalty on the kickoff return pushed the ball back to the Trojan 10, St. James held the ball for the next 19 plays and the next 8:15 on the clock.  Gantt, who had only completed 3 of 18 passes in the first half, with a pair of interceptions, completed 5 of his 6 second half passes as Ashford was defending almost extensively for the suddenly successful running game.  Matt Ward caught the first completion for 15 yards on a key third down and 12 play just before the end of the third quarter.    Five plays later, Greg Aitken caught a 17 yard pass over the middle on a third and 7 play.  A Ted Brewer run gave the Trojans first and goal from the Ashford 9.  Two plays later, from the one, the Trojans could not score.  On fourth from the one, while setting up for a go-ahead field goal, a delay penalty pushed St. James back to the six.  However, Stansfield converted on his third (and fifth consecutive in the last two games) field goal, from 23 yards out, and the Trojans were back up after the sixth lead change in the game, at 22-20, with 6:54 remaining.

After a Trojan kick out of bounds, Ashford moved forward.  On a fourth down play from the Trojan 48, a defensive holding penalty overruled an incomplete pass and gave the Jackets one of their only six first downs in the game at the 38.   However, an offensive holding penalty, a quarterback sack, and a loss on a pass completion set Ashford up with fourth and 29 from their own 43 with about two minutes remaining.  From here, things got very interesting.  Ashford, knowing the Trojans would be running the ball and running the clock, probably could not afford to punt but a fourth down of that distance would be difficult to convert.  However, Ashford snapped the ball to punter Anthony Crawford who rared back to find a suddenly wide open Muta Bolden down the sidelines.  Matt Ward, the Trojan punt returner who may have been out of place on the play, fortunately, managed to run him down and make an apparent touchdown saving tackle at the Trojan 4 yard line as the Jackets stands were going crazy.  However, a flag was thrown at the location where the ball was placed.  The officials huddled together for several minutes discussing the flag and waving both teams back from the conference.  Suddenly, the Trojans on the field started jumping with joy and the ball was then returned to the original line of scrimmage.  Bolden was called for an illegal participation penalty on the pass reception, which negated the play, and understandably a chorus of boos and sneers rang from the most likely puzzled Ashford supporters.

With all of the confusion of the previous play, the ball was not marked in the right place on the return as the yard marker had been moved, but the Ashford fourth down pass attempt which followed was incomplete, and with 1:34 remaining and Ashford down to two timeouts, the Trojans had the ball at the Jacket 45 ready to run out the clock.  An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was tagged on, moving the ball down to the 30 yard line, before a play was run.  This yardage might have proven to be extremely costly.  St. James ran one play before Ashford called their second time out, but on third down, a handoff was fumbled backwards and fallen on by Ashford at the their own 37 yard line with 36 seconds and a timeout remaining and the Jacket sidelines were again going crazy with yet another chance to claim a victory.   A five yard penalty and a six yard pass completion took up 8 seconds before the Jackets called their final timeout.  On second down from the Yellow Jacket 38, quarterback Neil Brackin connected on a seemingly safe short pass to Willie Collins.  However, he evaded early tacklers, crossed the field, and began running down the sidelines.  A touchdown saving tackle stopped him as he went out of bounds at the Trojan 11 yard line with 14 seconds remaining.  An incomplete pass to the endzone on first down cost six seconds, and Ashford decided to go for the game winning field goal on second down.  Dawsey lined up on the near hashmark from 28 yards out with a semi-sharp angle.  However, his kick was almost straight and the ball was spinning with points facing up and down as it sailed harmlessly into the endzone as the Trojan sidelines and supporters burst out with noise and celebration.

It took a minute or so for the Trojans to regroup enough to line up and snap the ball for the final play of the game with four seconds remaining, but they did, as Gantt very safely downed the ball two yards in the backfield, and as time ran out the Trojans celebrated their exhilirating victory over Region 2's first seed.


ST. JAMES      RUSHING   51 attempts  171 yards   1 TD  (3.35 yards per carry) 

                        42   Brewer      32 / 120                   10   Gantt        14 / 48
                        34   Thrasher      2 /    4                   30   Ward          3 / - 1  (1 TD)

                        PASSING      8 completions  24 attempts  2 INTs  126 yards   1 TD  (no sacks of)

                        10   Gantt         8 - 24 - 2    126 yards   1 TD


                        34   Thrasher      1 / 45                      6   Roberts       2 / 25   (1 TD)
                          3   Nelson         2 / 25                    23   Aitken         1 / 17
                        30   Ward           2 / 14

                        TOTAL YARDS:   297

                        KICKS:   XP  1 / 2               FG   3 / 3  (30 made, 32 made, 23 made)
                        2 POINT CONVERSIONS:  0 / 0
                        KICKOFFS:   6 (51,EZ,19,OB,58,OB)    PUNTS:  3  (32,18,30)

                        KO RETURNS:  2 (3,12)                        PUNT RETURNS:  2  (0fc,0fc)
                        INTERCEPTION RETURNS:  3  (22,0,4)
                        FIRST DOWNS:   20   (13 rushing, 5 passing, 2 penalty)

                        FUMBLES:  2, lost 1
                        TURNOVER MARGIN:   + 3
                        PENALTIES:  5 / 40 yards
                        TIME OF POSSESSION:  32:18

ASHFORD       RUSHING   21 attempts  178 yards   2 TDs  (8.48 yards per carry, 88 on one carry)
                        PASSING      6 completions  12 attempts  3 INTs  97 yards   0 TDs  (1 sack of, - 10 yards)

                        TOTAL YARDS:  275

                        KICKS:  XP  2 / 2          FG   0 / 1  (28 missed)
                        2 POINT CONVERSIONS:  0 / 1
                        KICKOFFS:  4  (EZ,OB,42,52)                PUNTS:  2  (28,22)
                        KO RETURNS:  3  (23,0f,10)                  PUNT RETURNS:  2  (0f, 0fc)
                        FIRST DOWNS:  8  (5 rushing, 3 passing)
                        FUMBLES:  3, lost 3
                        PENALTIES:  8 / 74 yards
                        TIME OF POSSESSION:  15:42