Oh, what could’ve been.
With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and a Madison Prep offense led by Zeon Chriss standing on the doorstep of the end zone, the Southern Lab Kittens were just 5 yards from a statement win over the 3A reigning champs.
But the door to that end zone needed a battering ram, and Chriss was more than happy to fill that role.
Instead, the Kittens were handed their first loss of the season 20-16.
Senior quarterback Angelo Izzard picked his way through the Chargers defense in the first half, connecting on seven of his 10 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Izzard leaned heavily on Navy commitment Herman Brister III and Antonio Donohue to move the chains, with Donohue scoring from 19 yards out and Brister III scoring on a 24-yard catch and run.
Izzard struggled with interceptions late in the game, throwing a trio of them deep into enemy territory.
Not to be outdone, Chriss staged a comeback toward the end of the first half and followed suit into the second. The UL-commitment threw for a pair of touchdowns and accounted for more than 250 yards of total offense, connecting with for a 26-yard touchdown strike with running back Christian Early on a screen pass that Early turned up field for a 6-yard score.
With four-star defensive lineman Quency Wiggins anchoring the middle for Madison Prep, the Kittens opted to stay away from inside handoffs, instead using Shawn Bates and Douglas Thornton to bounce around the outside and beat the secondary in a foot race to the sideline. Bates and Thornton combined for more than 150 yards on the ground, but didn’t find the end zone.
The only blemish for Madison Prep’s night came early in the contest, when a botched snap on a punt rolled out of the back of the end zone to open the scoring with a safety. Up until the final minute of play, when Chriss bulldozed in for the go ahead score, the safety looked to be fatal to the Chargers’ odds.
The Chargers used a running back-by-committee approach, with a healthy dose of Chriss. The senior ran nine times for 105 yards and the game’s only rushing touchdown of the night.
After giving up 14 of Southern Lab’s 16 points in the first half, the Chargers’ defense showed a renewed effort in the second, led by Wiggins in the trenches and defensive back Treylan James, who brought down an interception to go along with three catches for 59 yards on offense.