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Devils come up inches short

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Germantown quarterback Myles Guyton stretches for the goal line but is stopped by a Bobcat defender on fourth down Friday night. The Red Devils fell to Nashville Overton 20-17 at home in round one of the TSSAA tournament. Photo by Kevin Lewter

By BILL SORRELL
Tears streaming down his anguished face, Germantown senior linebacker Alfred Motlow yelled, “It can’t be over! It can’t be over!”
It is.
Living up to his last name, Nashville Overton sophomore kicker Jose Bravo kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Bobcats to a 20-17 first-round TSSAA 6-A playoff victory over Germantown on Friday. The loss ended the Red Devils’ season. Overton will play Region 3 foe Ravenwood this Friday in Brentwood.
Attempting to ice Bravo, Germantown head coach Chris Smith tried to call a timeout with two seconds left.
“We were unfortunate, we were calling it and they didn’t hear it and he punched in a 41-yard field goal and they deserved to win,” said Smith. “I am proud of our guys. They fought to the very, very end. It was a shame that somebody had to come off this field with a loss. Both teams, I thought very easily could have been winners. Unfortunately in the playoffs, somebody has got to lose and go home.”
Bravo got a ride on the shoulders of his teammates. Overton players and fans shouted “Jose! Jose! Jose!”
With tears of joy streaming down his face, Bravo said, “I knew I was going to make it. I was thinking God will help me. My teammates are always there for me telling me how good I am.” It was the first game-winning field goal of his career.
Overton head coach Steve Williams said, “I had a lot of faith in him. He has done it in practice many, many times. I thought he was going to come through for us. I am proud of all our kids.
“We tell our kids every day, you have got to play 48 minutes and you are in the game all the time. They continued to play for 48 minutes. I don’t think they had any doubt that they weren’t going to come back and win.”
Rallying from a 10-0 halftime deficit, the Red Devils took a 14-10 lead at the end of the third quarter.
With 10:11 left to play, Overton took a 17-14 lead. With 42 seconds left, Germantown freshman kicker Marshall Ware kicked a 28-yard field goal to tie the game.
“We still had 40 seconds on the clock. We felt like we had enough time to move the football down and get in field goal range,” said Williams.
With Overton on its 43, Germantown defensive lineman Trey Goins stuffed running back Kimlee North. On the next play, Overton quarterback Julius King hit Elijah Pankey for a 23-yard pass to get to the Red Devils’ 34 with 13 seconds left.
Germantown defensive back Devin Martin batted down King’s pass with seven seconds left. King then passed to Derrick Payne to get to the 24 with two seconds to play. That’s when Bravo stepped in.
Before the kick Williams told his players “to believe” they would win. “We do a two-minute drill every day in practice. We said, ‘Hey guys, we have got to get about 30 yards to get in field goal range and we did it.”
Germantown center Matt Ward, a senior, said, “It’s a lot to take in, losing by three at the end of the game. I still believed we had a chance. I was just praying we were going to be able to pull one out at the end.
“There are so many emotions at the same time. It hit me all at once, knowing that the season is over and going off to college. I am not sure if I am going to play or not.”
Myles Guyton, Germantown quarterback, was in tears. “It’s disappointing. We had so many opportunities we couldn’t convert. Next time, I think we need to execute more and do our best. We didn’t give our all toward the end. We could have done better.”
The Red Devils were six inches away from Nashville.
In one of the most critical drives of the season, the Red Devils were stopped on fourth down at the Overton six -inch line with 6:52 left to play.
Trailing 17-14, Germantown Cameron Tewari returned the kickoff to the Overton 26-yard line. Guyton hit Xavien Hughes with a first down pass with 9:43 left to the 15-yard line. Kameron Walker then ran to the 7 before Guyton got a first down on the 5-yard line. Walker ran to the 2 before being stopped for no gain on the next play. On third down, Walker ran to within six inches of the goal line. Guyton was stopped on the next play.
“I may be wrong but we got stopped fourth and one, third and one at least three times,” said Smith. “When you stop somebody like that three or four times, they deserve to win.”
Said Ward, “Just about six inches, one or two more times. It was close. One more play we really needed but we couldn’t pull it off.”
Williams said, “Our defense came up big. Our defense played extremely well. We gave up one big play on defense.”
The Bobcats (7-4) had been in the come-from-behind situation before. They rallied for a 42-41 win over Marshall County on Aug. 28.
“We were picked as underdogs in that game. It was similar. We had the lead and let them come back and we just finished,” said King, who has passed for 1,188 yards and 14 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He has completed 73 of 145 passes.
In the victory over Germantown, “We never gave up. We just kept picking each other up if something bad happened. We didn’t care. We just played for the next play and played for each other and played like a team tonight. We came off with a win and that is all that matters at the end of the day. It feels great to win like this on the road,” said King, a senior who completed 11 of 17 passes for 149 yards and rushed for 51 yards on nine carries.
Overton rushed for 121 yards on 36 carries with North gaining a team-high 59 yards on 14 carries. Pankey caught six passes for 117 yards.
Overton had 391 yards total offense while Germantown had 205, including 135 yards passing and 70 yards rushing. Guyton completed 12 of 25 passes for 135 yards. Overton got 15 first downs to the Red Devils’ 10.
Finishing third in Region 3, the Bobcats lost a tie-breaker to finish as the fifth-seed. Germantown, which had won three of its last four games, was the fourth seed in Region 8.
The Red Devils, in the Shelby County Schools system, had victories over all municipal schools Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville and Houston.
The playoff game was at Houston because a water-main had broken on the 50-yard line on Germantown’s field.
“I want to thank Houston for giving us the opportunity to play out here tonight. It was a great environment. Hopefully it brings the community together,” said Smith, finishing his first season as head coach.
While all 32 6-A teams in the state made the playoffs, the Red Devils wanted to “earn” the fourth seed. They knocked off Arlington 49-35 in the regular season finale to get the seed.
Williams got what he expected from Germantown. “It was a very physical football game. Every time they answered, we answered back,” he said.
Overton started with a 46-yard pass from King to Pankey. However that initial drive failed and the Red Devils took over on their 46-yard line. On Overton’s 37, Guyton was stopped on fourth down and one with 6:07 left in the first quarter.
A 16-yard run by King got the Bobcats to the Germantown 35-yard line. Facing fourth and 10, King threw a 13-yard pass to Pankey for a first down at the 22. The Bobcats got as far as the Germantown 4.
Lost yardage on the next play set up Bravo’s first field goal, a 27-yarder with 1:56 to play in the first quarter.
A 39-yard pass from King to Pankey led to an Overton touchdown. Derrick Payne scored from 13 yards out for
a 10-0 lead with 10:13 left in the second quarter.
With Germantown defensive back Anterrious Branch recovering a fumble on the Overton 28, the Red Devils
alternated rushes by Davinci Leavy and Guyton to get to the Overton 5. Guyton then had a gritty run to the Overton 1 but the Bobcats stopped him on fourth down.
“Plays in the red zone, we couldn’t execute well. The defense played a great game. The offense couldn’t execute as well as we could have,” said Ward. “Overton came with full force. They brought the heat today. They came ready to play.”
The Red Devils scored their first touchdown on a 4-yard run by Guyton with 9:30 left in the third. Germantown recovered a fumble, one of three Overton lost, on the second half kickoff at the Overton 43. A pass interference penalty in the end zone got the Red Devils to the 20. Guyton scored on fourth down. Ware’s PAT narrowed it to 10-7.
The Red Devils took the lead, 14-10, with 4:53 left in the third. Bravo’s punt was blocked in his end zone and Christian Willett, a senior Germantown defensive back, recovered. Ware kicked the PAT.
“It definitely provided a big spark,” said Smith. “We were in need of one after halftime. I could tell that our guys were a little frustrated. They knew they could play with them and they weren’t just getting it. Then we had a big play or two on defense that set us up and our offense had a play or two and it got us going.”
That was Germantown’s first recovered fumble in the end zone for a TD this season. “When the defense makes a big play like that, that was the turning point. That really kept us in it and jolted us forward,” said Smith.
A 75-yard drive by Overton led to its 17-14 lead. A pass interference penalty on Germantown, a 16-yard run by King, an 11-yard pass from King to Payne got the Bobcats to the Red Devil 18-yard line. North then scored. Bravo kicked it to 17-14 with 10:11 left in the game.
Described by Ward as “always persistent,’ Guyton led the Red Devils to tie the game at 17. The drive went 61 yards to set up Ware’s field goal with 42 seconds left.
Smith’s words to Ware before he attempted the field goal?
“We told him it’s not much farther than an extra point and you are going to get some great blocking,” said Smith. “We made some adjustments on the blocking upfront and he had protection and put it right in.”
Ward said, “He has got a lot of potential in the future for us. He is going to be good for field goals. He can kick it well.”
Ware wasn’t the only Germantown kicker who kicked it well. Punter Cooper Foreman, a senior, had excellent punts, including a 42-yarder and a 47-yarder that were fielded by Overton at its 8 and 10- yard lines respectively. Wearing orange cleats, Foreman punted five times.
Smith was pleased with Joshua Puryear, a senior defensive end, who played “ a heck of a game on defense” before he sustained a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
“It was several guys who made some plays in big situations, it wasn’t just one,” said Smith.
“The team is really young. We had a transition through the year. We started to play younger players and we hit a rut in the middle of the season and we lost three in a row (Briarcrest, Whitehaven, Cordova). We adjusted some things and went 3-1 down the stretch. We started discovering our identity about who we are going to be at Germantown and how we are going to move forward in the future. It was great to see some of the younger guys step up and make plays toward the end of the year,” said Smith.
“I am proud of the seniors who stuck through the new system, the new belief, because there had been a system that had been in place since the early 1970’s. They bought into a new philosophy, a new coaching staff and handled some adversity and still stayed believing until the every end. I couldn’t ask for much more from some guys when they fought
to the very, very last play. We hope they take the 212-degree mentality in life. “
The 212-degree mentality has been a theme this season. That is the temperature where water boils.
“You can be 211 but how many will go the extra degree?” said Germantown assistant coach Logan Rebstock, who was an opera singer before becoming a coach. “Key players set off the chain reaction to start something special.”
Ward said, “The coach has always told us to be 212-degrees, the extra degree is always important to us. That stuck with me.”
The team has also used “GRD” as a motto. While most may think they stand for Germantown Red Devils, the initials mean “Greatness Requires Determination” said Rebstock.
“You have to be determined to get up when life knocks you down. You do your best when you think positive. It’s a tough region. Every week it’s a dogfight. The kids have adapted to that philosophy of taking your lunch pail to work.”
Puryear, Willett, Goins, Torion Hunt have sparked the Red Devils’ 4-2-5 defense while Guyton, Leavy, Rodney Williams, Tewari, Walker, Jacob Ivey spark the no-huddle spread offense. Guyton and Walker each had about 550 yards rushing in the regular season.
“It’s been a long season. It’s been a great learning experience, not just from a coaching standpoint but from the whole system,” said Smith. “I am proud of our guys.”
Williams echoed Smith.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids the way they played tonight. I think it was two really good football teams that played their hearts out tonight and unfortunately there had to be a loser in this game,” said Williams. ”I am glad we came out on top.”

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