CAPITOL HEIGHTS – The Central Falcons and High Point Eagles fought to the very last second, with the Eagles stealing the game at home on Sept. 16, winning 22-16.
With just 14 seconds remaining, Vernon Patten hit Joseph Bongono for the tandem’s second score of the game, and gave the Eagles their third straight win in dramatic fashion.
Just three games into the 2017 season, the Eagles have already amassed the same amount of wins as they have had over the past four seasons combined. High Point Head Coach Wilbert Brinson, Sr. said the team is playing the best they have played in a while.
“We did what we needed to do,” Brinson, Sr. said “These guys have a lot of grit. They put in work during the offseason and it showed at the end. We had to fight and we didn’t quit. We knew we could win the game, but it was about somebody wanting to make a play.”
At the beginning of the first quarter, it was hard to tell which team was undefeated (High Point) and which team was looking for its first win of the season (Central). Eventually the Eagles showed the Falcons why they were undefeated.
Following an interception by Patten, the two-way player drove the Eagles down the field and finished the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown.
Things got worse for Central as senior running back Khyree Phifer fumbled the ball. A couple of plays later the Eagles took advantage of the turnover with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Patten to Bongono.
In the second quarter, Central looked like a different team. Halfway through the quarter, the Falcons scored on a beautiful 10-yard touchdown catch by Gregory Shipmon. After scoring their first points of the game, the Falcons took a chance by going for a two-point conversion. The gamble paid off as they converted on a run by quarterback Keiron Black to make the score 14-8.
The drive gave the Falcons momentum, and three minutes later, cornerback Craig Morton hauled in an interception. The pick led to Black running into the endzone for the game-tying touchdown. Instead of kicking the extra point, the Falcons went for two again – and were successful again – as Phifer ran it in for a 16-14 lead heading into halftime.
After both defenses held the opposing offenses scoreless in the third quarter, it was the same story in the fourth with both units coming up with big stops. In the end, the Eagles got the ball with less than two minutes to go and had one last shot to win the game.
Patten drove his team all the way down the field with the help of some penalties. Then, with 14 seconds remaining in the game, Patten and Bongono hooked up for a second time, with this score being the game-winner.
“I sat down on the bench and I just thought in my head that we needed this,” Patten said about the game-winning drive. “This is the last drive and we can close out the game. So my intensity was on another level. I picked up the pace and I had to drag everybody with me. When everybody gets on the same page, nobody can stop us.”
“The last drive was all about (Patten) and me,” Bongono said. “We ran a lot and we got some penalties, but we came back. The last play was crazy. I didn’t even know I was going to catch that. I thought I was out, but I tiptoed it in and we got the win.”
Bongono finished with four catches for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Despite accounting for six turnovers, Patten made the plays when they counted the most. He finished with a hand in all three scores, and had 20 carries for 100 yards on the ground.
“The passing game is not always going to be there, so you have to put it on your back and have to be a mobile quarterback,” Patten said. “When the opportunity is there, you can’t be selfish, and we came out with the win.”
After another tough loss, the Falcons fall to 0-3 on the season.
“I take my hat off to High Point,” Central Head Coach Kenny Amaker said. “Coach Brinson is doing a good job over there. They brought a lot of outside blitzes and they got to us when we spread out to throw the ball.”