Many words have been used to describe St. Augustine’s kickers throughout the years, but rarely has one of those words ever been clutch.
Well, that was until Thursday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
“It’s crazy. Appreico Wiggins has been coming up clutch for us all season,” said Purple Knights wide receiver Tekulve Williams. “Hopefully, he can do it in the playoffs, too.
Wiggins hasn’t added a playoff-game-winning field goal to his résumé yet, but after his 33-yarder gave St. Aug (4-4, 1-3 District 9-5A) a 15-14 lead over Catholic-League foe Shaw (4-5, 0-4) with 3:30 left, he now has two regular-season, game-winning kicks under his belt.
“Sometimes you have to win games like that. We’ve been through a lot of adversity this year,” Purple Knights coach Cyril Crutchfield after his team got their first district win of the season. “We started 11 kids on defense tonight that weren’t starters last year and we were without (wide receiver) Stanley Morgan.
“It just speaks volumes about the type of kids that we have. They kept fighting and they never gave up.”
Shaw had an opportunity to pull out the win at the end of regulation, but Peyton Dufour missed a 39-yard field goal wide left with less than a minute remaining.
Tad Gormley’s scoreboard malfunction at halftime was a prerequisite for the type of wacky game that would ensue. Shaw’s offense was in complete control in the first half and the Purple Knights struggled to get anything going.
Once the second half started, it completely switched.
Leading the way for St. Aug were two sophomores, quarterback Justice McCoy and wide receiver Williams. They seemed to take a leadership role on offense after the loss of a dynamic player of Morgan’s caliber.
McCoy completed 11 of 19 passes for 171 yards (133 in the second half), threw in 44 rushing yards and scored a rushing touchdown. Williams added three catches for 66 yards.
“Me and Justice just talked to each other at halftime and said we needed to start making plays,” Williams said. “Stanley isn’t here to make the plays anymore, so we knew we had to do it because he wasn’t there to save the day for us.”
After two false start penalties to open the half seemed like it may aid the Purple Knight’s continued inability to sustain a drive, McCoy threw strikes of 33 and 28 yards to Williams to set himself up for a 1-yard touchdown two plays later. After failing on the two-point conversion, Shaw’s lead shrunk to 14-12.
St. Aug was finally able to get on the board with their its drive of the first half, marching 78 yards on 13 plays and running back Lanard Fournette capped the drive by taking a draw play 12 yards for a touchdown. After missing the extra-point attempt, Shaw led 14-6 heading into halftime.
“(Justice) is still growing. This is only his eighth game,” Crutchfield said. “He’s going to make some good plays and some bad plays. thankfully, he made enough good ones tonight.”
The Eagles offense found their groove early against the St. Aug defense but was held scoreless after halftime.
After quarterback Matt Keller threw a 49-yard completion to Jordan Ortega giving Shaw the ball at the 1-yard line, Keller punched it in two plays later on a one-yard run to give Shaw an early 7-0 lead with 9:10 left in the first quarter.
After forcing the Purple Knights to punt on the following possession, Shaw went with more of a methodical approach on their next drive. The Eagles went on a clock-killing, 13-play, 73-yard drive that began midway through the first quarter and ended in the second quarter.
After a Keller touchdown pass to Denzell McCoy was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty, Keller found McCoy again on the next play for 23 yards. On the next play, Keller faked a handoff to Ragas and hit fullback De’Linseyian Edwards in the flat for a one-yard touchdown, giving the Eagles a 14-0 lead.
Trey Ragas, one of the most prolific rushers in the metro area heading into Thursday’s game, had 74 rushing yards at halftime, but only finished with 113 on the night on 22 carries after a 207-yard performance against Brother Martin last week.
“It was just a gut-check thing,” Crutchfield said. “Our back was against the wall and we had to do something. We had to fight back.”