GREENVILLE – Entering Friday night’s FHSAA Class 1A state semifinal at Boot Hill Stadium, both Trenton and host Madison County had rushing offenses that prolifically chewed up yards.
That created a huge challenge for both sides’ defenses, and both came up large.
But for undefeated Trenton, it capitalized in the early stages of the game with good field position and a rare passing touchdown.
Madison County’s season ended short of the state championship game behind a 27-18 defeat, which also snapped the Cowboys’ nine-game win streak.
“We gave ourselves a chance, but we just had a lot of mistakes,” Madison coach Mike Coe said. “The mistakes killed us. Kicking game, they had an advantage big time.”
In the state semifinals regardless of classification for the fifth time in six years, Madison (9-4) could not overcome its five turnovers and a run game that only got going after the Cowboys entered halftime down 13-0.
“Two good defenses, that’s what you can credit it to,” Trenton coach Andrew Thomas said. “Both defenses pride themselves on being physical. It’s how we’ve played all year, where our defense has set us up. We knew it would be a grind offensively against them.”
Madison tried to turn its luck with under a minute to go. The Cowboys were at the Tigers’ 33 and receiver Zamaury Page snuck towards his sideline unseen.
Quarterback Kentwan Daniels hurried to snap and hit for a long touchdown that would have changed the momentum, especially with Madison getting the ball coming out of halftime.
But a flag was called on Page for illegal participation and Coe was irate over the reversal of fortune.
“That was a horrible call, and we told them before the game we were going to run that play,” Coe said. “He just blew the call. It makes a big difference.
“The rule is you’ve got to be inside the numbers when they blow the play to start for the 25-second clock,” Coe explained. “He was. He ran right beside the ref and stopped. We’ve run it for years. They blew the call, but hats off to Trenton. They play the right way and they play hard.”
Madison entered averaging 336 yards a game on the ground but accumulated just 23 in the first half.
Simultaneously, Trenton (13-0) pinned the Cowboys’ struggling offense deep in its zone, leading to two first-half field goals.
The lone Tigers touchdown was a 40-yard pass up the seam to running back Hamp Cheevers. He escaped the backfield from Trentons’ Navy-like option formation and slipped past the secondary for the score.
He nearly scored earlier in the game on the same play but was overthrown. Not this time, hauling it in with a couple bobbles.
“Same one we missed earlier when he was naked,” Thomas said. “We were going to go back to it later, but the situations of the game had us be smart with it.”
Daniels scored on a 16-yard scamper early in the third quarter to make it a 13-6 game, but a short field after a Tigers defensive stand a poor Madison punt allowed Cheevers to score on a short carry.
Immediately after, Daniels was stripped in the backfield and the Tigers’ Kade Rogers returned the fumble for a 25-yard score and a three-touchdown lead.
“I didn’t expect it would be a high-scoring game,” Thomas said.
“They’re so athletic. We had a couple good gains, but they’d get us in the back end. But we took the opportunities we got early and our defense made a couple plays. You can’t expect to come play Madison County and hang a lot of points.”
To Madison’s credit, it got going when Kenny McQuay (117 yards), carrying in the second half after starter Patrick Brown was injured, busted runs of 37 and 38 yards.
Teryon Henderson scored on a 1-yard run, then in the fourth quarter Henderson’s 34-yard burst set up McQuay’s 23-yard jaunt to the end zone.
With 9:12 left, Madison tried but could never come up with an equalizing score or the conversion points to make things even more interesting.
“We’ve got good kids, they work hard and they buy in,” Coe said. “I can’t say enough about our defense. If we could get it to one score we could put a little pressure on them. They fumble on their 30 late, but got it back. And we just couldn’t get it.”
Wakulla 35, Suwannee 14
The War Eagles are headed back to the state semifinals for the first time since 2011, courtesy of a 35-14 win over Suwannee on Friday night at J.D. Jones Stadium.
Wakulla quarterback Feleipe Franks threw a 78-yard touchdown pass to Kelton Donaldson in the first quarter and rushed for a touchdown in the second quarter following a 60-yard connection with Keith Gavin.
Franks then hit Gavin for a 13-yard strike in the third quarter.
Demarcus Lindsey ran for a touchdown for the War Eagles (12-1), who have won 12 in a row and will now host Clay (10-3) in the FHSAA Class 5A state semifinals next week.
TRENTON 27, MADISON COUNTY 18
Trenton 3 10 14 0 — 27
Madison 0 0 12 6 — 18
T — Marcus Mannerstedt 26 field goal, 5:07
T — Hamp Cheevers 40 pass from Michael Smith (Mannerstedt kick), 9:56
T — Mannerstedt 32 field goal, 1:18
MC — Kentwan Daniels 16 run (conversion failed), 9:10
T — Cheevers 4 run (Mannerstedt kick), 3:58
T — Kade Rogers 25 fumble return (Mannerstedt kick), 2:51
MC — Teryon Henderson 1 run (conversion failed), 1:47
MC — Kenny McQuay 23 run (conversion failed), 9:12
Passing— Trenton: Michael Smith 2-5-46-1-0; Madison: Kentwan Daniels 3-8-32-0-2
Rushing— Trenton: Hamp Cheevers 17-52, Montrez Jackson 11-49, Smith 6-14, Tre McCleese 6-8, Kade Rogers 1-3; Madison: Kenny McQuay 8-117, Patrick Brown 10-24, Daniels 16-40, Teryon Henderson 6-35
Receiving— Trenton: Brooks Martin 1-6, Cheevers 1-40; Madison: Brown 1-5, Zamaury Page 2-23, Trey Adams 1-4
Trenton (13-0), Madison County (9-4)
WAKULLA 35, SUWANNEE 14
Suwannee 0 6 8 0 — 14
Wakulla 7 6 14 8 — 35
W — Kelton Donaldson 78 pass from Feleipe Franks (Franks kick), 4:56
S — Fumble return (kick failed), 11:47
W — Franks 1 run (conversion failed), 6:17
W — Keith Gavin 13 pass from Franks (Franks kick), 9:37
W — Demarcus Lindsey 7 run (Franks kick), 5:05
S — Steven Anderson 10 run (conversion good), 1:13
W — Touchdown (conversion good), 6:19
Suwannee (10-3), Wakulla (12-1)
Clay (10-3) at Wakulla, Class 5A state semifinal, Dec. 4