Tigers end 19 year drought, beat LA 35-28 in thriller

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Updated: September 8, 2013
Scoreboard

“The past is in the past and that’s not what wins or loses football games,” said Tiger head coach, Steve Trapp.  “Still, it was a big win for us.”

Rickey Spare grabs Tiger Head Coach, Steve Trapp after DeKalb's huge win against Livingston Academy.

Rickey Spare grabs Tiger Head Coach, Steve Trapp after DeKalb’s huge win against Livingston Academy.

That might have been the understatement of the year for DeKalb.

Every year the Tigers circle the date of the Livingston Academy game in hopes that they can defeat the dreaded Wildcats. In a win streak that dates back to 1994, the Tigers have been unable to best the team from Livingston.  Each year, somehow, the rivalry seems to grow a little more bitter, as both sides show a little more disdain for each other that the year before.  Each year, for the last 15 meetings, the Wildcats have seemingly been “in the heads” of, not only the DCHS football team, but the fans themselves.  Somehow Friday night seemed a little different though.

As it turns out, it was.

It seemed as though every person with a camera within the mid-state ascended on the DCHS campus Friday evening.  Not only were there local sports talk radio stations publicizing the game, two television outlets broadcast from the game.

Mix all that in with the evident “fever” from the crowd assembled there and you

Eli Gill and the Black and Gold Defense held Livingston Academy to less than 300 yards in DeKalb's victory over the Wildcats Friday night.

Eli Gill and the Black and Gold Defense held Livingston Academy to less than 300 yards in DeKalb’s victory over the Wildcats Friday night.

have an alignment for at least an electrifying atmosphere.

No one, at least wearing black, left disappointed.  “Its definitely a big win for us,” said Trapp.  “With the emotion our fans have, it hurt our community to lose those last two games (losses to LA to end the 2012 season)”.

That win was very much in question for most of the game however.  After forcing the Wildcats to punt in their first possession,  DeKalb couldn’t manage a first down in its first try on offense.

DeKalb would force another LA punt in the next possession and DeKalb looked like it was off to the races, as Tiger running back, Devonte Milan ripped off two big runs in the series. The team was shaken though as Milan fumbled the ball , giving at the Wildcat 32 yard line, putting LA in line to take advantage of the Tiger miscue.

Devonte Milan was DeKalb's player of the game in the Tigers' win over Livingston Friday night.

Devonte Milan was DeKalb’s player of the game in the Tigers’ win over Livingston Friday night.

The Black and Gold defense would bow up, however, forcing a three and out to the Wildcats, and causing a huge sense of relief from the Tiger faithful.

Both teams would hold each other in check the entire first quarter, but it wouldn’t take long into the second before Livingston would strike.

Starting on their own 32 yard line, Livingston would put together a 7 play drive to cover the distance and give Livingston the first points of the ballgame.  The PAT was good and with 8:20 left in the half, the Wildcats grabbed the first lead, 7-0.

DeKalb would answer quickly, though, as just two plays later Tiger quarterback, Steven Jennings would find wide-out Aaron Patterson for a huge 86 yard touchdown strike to put DeKalb on the board.  Tiger kicker, Matthew Poss’s extra

Hunter Stone and Lance Ball helped power the Tiger defense in DeKalb's win over Livingston Academy Friday night.

Hunter Stone and Lance Ball helped power the Tiger defense in DeKalb’s win over Livingston Academy Friday night.

point attempt was ruled no good but DeKalb had struck back, narrowing the Wildcat lead to just one with 7:44 left in the second quarter.

Livingston would answer, however, as LA got the ball at their own 35 and marched 65 yards down field on 5 plays, scoring a touchdown on an 11 yard strike from Wildcat quarterback, Kaleb Qualls to wide receiver Wade Eldridge to put the the Wildcats ahead again.  Their PAT was good and with 4:53 left in the half, Livingston held a 14-6 lead.

DeKalb would again answer on their next possession as Jennings put together an impressive eight play, 65 yard drive in which he found receiver, AJ Mooneyham for a 5 yard touchdown strike to put DeKalb down by two.  This time Poss’s kick was true and DeKalb went in to the break down by one, 14-13, but with all of the

Rickey Spare came up with a huge sack to seal the Tigers' victory against Livingston Academy.

Rickey Spare came up with a huge sack to seal the Tigers’ victory against Livingston Academy.

momentum.

The third period began a lot like the first as both teams would punt on their first possessions.  Livingston would strike first at the 4:44 mark of the quarter, scoring on a five yard touchdown rumble.  The PAT was good and suddenly Livingston looked like they might take control of the game, leading the Tigers 21-13.

As fate would have it though, the last stanza belonged to the Tigers.

After both teams punted the rest of the third quarter away, the Tigers struck first in the fourth in perhaps their most impressive drive of the game, going 65 yards on 7 plays behind the powerful running of Luke Boss who scored from a yard out.  Steven Jennings would tie the game at 21, running the ball in for the two point conversion.

Then the magic really began.

Steven Jennings and Devonte Milan were key to the Tigers win Friday night against Livingston Academy.

Steven Jennings and Devonte Milan were key to the Tigers win Friday night against Livingston Academy.

After forcing Livingston to punt on their next possession, Coach Trapp would reach into his bag of tricks as Devonte Milan would find Jonathan Munoz on the Tigers next play for 49 yards to set the Tigers up at the Wildcat 3 yard line.  Jennings would take care of it from there, running the ball into the end-zone to give DeKalb it’s first lead of the game.  The PAT was good and the Black and Gold led 28-21.

DeKalb would force another LA punt and two plays later Devonte Milan would put what would prove to be the death knell for the Wildcats, scoring on a 59 yard run to expand the Tiger lead.  Poss’s PAT was again good and the celebration began in Smithville, as the Tigers took what seemed to be an unassailable  lead with just 2:34 left, 35-28.

That celebration soon turned into nervousness.

Two plays later Qualls and Eldridge would again hookup, as the pair connected on an 83 yard bomb to narrow the DeKalb lead.  The PAT was good and suddenly DeKalb’s comfortable lead wasn’t so comfortable at 35-28 with 2:12 still to play.

Then nervousness turned to terror.

Aaron Patterson had a huge night for DeKalb in it's win over Livingston Academy.

Aaron Patterson had a huge night for DeKalb in it’s win over Livingston Academy.

Livingston would recover an onside kick to set themselves up for a tying score around midfield.  DeKalb would watch as Livingston rolled off four subsequent plays to put the ball at the DeKalb 6 yard line with 0:34 left.

That would be as close as Livingston would get.

Fueled by a huge Rickey Spare sack, DeKalb would progressively force the Wildcats back to the 21 yard line.  On fourth down, Qualls threw and incomplete pass and the celebration in Smithville officially began.

“We talk about it all the time,” said Coach Trapp.  “The next play, with the horn blows, that’s when we’ll find out whether we are winners or losers.  That story was painted perfectly for them tonight.  They had to play every single snap to win.”

With the win, DeKalb improves to 3-0 on the season, picking up their first district win in the process.  The Tigers will host White County next Friday night as DeKalb continues it’s march through the regular season.

DeKalb County celebrated after the Tigers' win over Livingston Friday night.

DeKalb County celebrated after the Tigers’ win over Livingston Friday night.