This game literally went down to the last play as Tatum’s Samuel Zapata missed a 44-yard field goal attempt which would have sent the game into overtime.
Harmony used a “bend-but-don’t-break” defense and timely offense to pull off one of the biggest wins in the gridiron history of the school.
The hometown Eagles’ defensive unit stopped Tatum twice inside the ten-yard line, and the offense made two crucial drives to send No. 5 state- ranked Tatum to defeat in this “David vs Goliath” battle.
Both teams came into the contest with identical, 4-1, non-district records with Tatum’s only loss to 3-A powerhouse Gilmer. Tatum drops to (4-2,0-1) while Harmony continues its resurgence with a 5-1, 1-0, mark.
The first half was a 0-0 defensive stalemate with Tatum missing numerous opportunities to score. Tatum took the opening kickoff and moved from their own 40 to the Harmony 10 before Tatum running back Laderrion Johnson was stuffed on a 4th-and-3.
Tatum was given another gift on Harmony’s first play from scrimmage as the ball was fumbled back to Tatum. After a 5-yard procedure penalty, Harmony’s Brandon Glenn cut the Tatum drive short with an interception at the Harmony 20.
Harmony was stymied by poor field position the entire first half. After a series of punt exchanges, Tatum threatened again late in the second quarter. Tatum drove from their own 38 to the Harmony 8, where Harmony defensive back Tim McCoy intercepted another Tatum pass with 2:50 remaining before halftime.
With their backs to their own end zone, Harmony drove the ball from their own 6 to the 50-yard line as time expired in the first half.
Harmony received the second half kickoff, but continued to set up Tatum for a score as the kickoff was fumbled back to Tatum at the Harmony 12-yard line. Again, the Harmony defense was up to the task as the red-and-white Eagles held Tatum and turned the ball over after four downs at the Harmony 3.
The defensive stand seemed to inspire Harmony’s offense. Harmony went on a marathon, 97-yard, 14-play scoring drive that was capped by Matt Hosea’s 1-yard run with 3:36 left in the third quarter.
Hosea’s score was set up by several key plays on the drive, including a 15-yard, third-down conversion pass from Wesley Schoon to Lucas Askew and Levi Thompson’s 36-yard run to the Tatum 1. The drive consumed 6:10 off the clock. Schoon added the PAT kick, and Harmony was on its way to victory with a 7-0 lead.
Tatum responded quickly to the Harmony score. The visiting Eagles traveled 58 yards in only five plays for their first score of the contes,t which was a 14-yard pass from Darian Brooks to Carl Whitaker, Jr. for six points.
The PAT kick attempt was one of the most unusual plays ever witnessed in football history. A Harmony defender broke through the Tatum line and blocked the extra-point kick attempt.
Eagle defensive back Daven Murphree fielded the ball in the air, five yards deep in the end zone at the near sidelines. Murphree ran towards the far sidelines before cutting up field behind a wall of blockers and returned the blocked kick 105 yards for two points.
The block and subsequent return was a 3-point turnaround and eventual margin of victory for Harmony as Harmony now led, 9-6, with 1:22 to play in the third stanza.
Tatum’s defense tightened after the kickoff and held Harmony to a quick 3-and-out. Tatum continued to seize the momentum of the game by streaking 55 yards in only four plays to take their first lead of the contest. Johnson did the scoring honors with a 13-yard burst for six. Zapata’s PAT kick upped the Tatum lead to 13-9 with 9:45 to play in the game.
It was another 3-and-out for the Harmony offense, but Tatum was also forced to punt back to Harmony after three offensive snaps. After another exchange of punts, Harmony got the ball back with 1:37 to go. Even though time was running short, Harmony did have their best field position of the night at the Tatum 42-yard line.
Tatum was flagged for pass interference on the first play of Harmony’s desperation drive as Harmony held a first down at the Tatum 30. Following an incompletion, Harmony QB Schoon, with great protection from his offensive line, launched a beautiful spiral pass to Askew who went up between three defenders to come down with the ball at the Tatum 2.
On the next play, Hosea followed his wedge blockers into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown as the Harmony grandstands exploded in celebration. Schoon’s PAT kick was true, as Harmony now held a 16-13 advantage with only 47 seconds remaining.
But the game was far from over. Tatum returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 41 and again launched a “blitzkrieg” offensive drive. Back-to-back passes for 14 and 13 yards respectively set Tatum up at the Harmony 32 with 18 seconds to play in regulation.
Tatum QB Brooks could not find an open receiver on the next play, but managed to scramble out-of-bounds at the Harmony 27 with 4 seconds to play.
Tatum elected to go for a 44-yard field goal attempt to send the game into overtime. Tatum’s talented kicker Zapata launched a high kick, which had plenty of distance but was just right of the goalpost uprights on the game’s final play as Harmony’s players, band, cheerleaders and fans erupted in jubilant pandemonium.
In addition to his two rushing TDs, Harmony’s Matt Hosea gained 76 yards on 30 carries. Teammate Levi Thompson added 52 yards on only seven totes of the pigskin. Lucas Askew had two receptions for Harmony for 43 yards. Palmer Child and Thompson also had pass receptions for Harmony.
Tatum’s Shaq Johnson took game-high rushing honors with 97 yards on 20 carries. Laderrion Johnson had 84 yards on 14 carries for Tatum. Nate Pickett hauled in four passes for 43 yards for the losing Eagles.
Harmony cannot celebrate their big win too long as the Eagles travel across the county on Friday night, Oct. 14, for a 7:30 game at New Diana. Tatum travels to Sabine on the same night.
GAME AT A GLANCE
14 ……....... First Downs …..….. 13
40-122 …… Rushes-Yds…..... 40-186
4-8-0 ……. Passes: C-A-I .….. 8-12-2
66 ……...... Passing Yds ….......… 84
188 …….... Total Yards ……...... 270
4-2 ……... Fumbles-Lost ….......2-0
2-20 …….Penalties-Yards ….....7-72
Score by quarter:
1 2 3 4 T
Tatum 0 0 6 7 - 13
Harmony 0 0 9 7 - 16