Winning a district title may not always come under the most pristine circumstances, but it always feels sweet none the same.
Miller-McCoy found a way to pull off a 20-19 victory over Thomas Jefferson on Saturday night at Hoss Memtsas Stadium, giving them the title as champions of District 10-3A for the second straight season.
“Our core value at Miller-McCoy is that you can’t quit. We knew they would make some plays, but we had to respond,” Miller-McCoy coach Jeremiah Scott said. “Anytime you have somewhat of a small playoff game leading up to the playoffs its always great for your team.”
Thomas Jefferson (6-3, 1-1) had an opportunity to tie the game with three minutes left in the game after a 14-yard TD run by Donte Sincere, but the Jaguars missed the extra point, which allowed the Lions to hold on to a 20-19 lead.
The Jaguars were able to force a Miller-McCoy (4-5, 2-0) four-and-out on the ensuing possession, but the Lions defense held up at the end of the game, forcing a four-and-out of their own to clinch the win.
“It feels great to accomplish something that we know we can hand down in history to all the kids that go to Miller-McCoy,” said quarterback Melvin Johnson, who finished 8-of-18 for 106 yards, added 55 rushing yards and scored two total TDs.
Late in the third quarter, Thomas Jefferson coach Kevin Kelly decided to make a change at quarterback with his starter Tyler Lavergne struggling (completed 1 of 12 passes). He turned to his top playmaker Tyler Butler and Butler answered the bell by guiding the Lions’ offense 53 yards. He finished the drive off by connecting with receiver Ermond Williams for a 17-yard TD that tied the game at 13.
The Lions responded by taking the following drive 80 yards on 8 plays before Johnson capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run to reclaim the lead at 20-13.
“(Butler) is our spark, he’s our physical player. We call it the T-But package (for Tyler Butler),” Kelly said. “I was just disappointed with our effort and our mentality in the first quarter. I don’t know what to attribute it to, but we just weren’t there.
After a puzzling Miller-McCoy fake-punt attempt inside its own 20 failed, the Jaguars took advantage of the premium field position four plays later with a 33-yard field goal by kicker Marco Acosta to cut the Lions’ lead down to 7-6.
The Lions responded by taking the ensuing drive 58 yards on six plays with Melvin Johnson connecting with wide receiver Gerald Edwards to cap off the drive with an 18-yard TD to extend their lead out to 13-6.
Sincere came into Saturday’s matchup with 112 carries and 628 rushing yards in his last three outings and the Jaguars rode their workhorse back again with their season on the line. Sincere finished the game with 27 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown and also broke the school’s single-season rushing record along the way, finishing the season with 1,148 rushing yards.
After an interception by Lavergne on the opening possession of the game, Miller-McCoy marched 51 yards in seven plays before Johnson ended the drive with one-yard touchdown run to give the Lions an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
After Miller-McCoy’s score on their first drive, both teams struggled to gain any momentum on offense, with six of the eight first-half possessions ending in either a turnover, a punt or a turnover on downs.
“We just have to get back to the type of offense we are used to being,” Scott said. “But I’m proud of the heart and resiliency our guys played with tonight. They deserve to celebrate this one.”