Facing their toughest test all season, the DeSoto Thunderbirds managed to keep their perfect record intact with a 28-20 come-from-behind victory over the Kirk Academy Raiders at Sam Howe Field Friday evening.
DeSoto never led against the Raiders, 1-6, until the 6:51 mark of the final quarter.
The T-Birds were playing without the services of starting running back Bradley Harper.
Kirk Academy kept the ball almost half of the opening quarter on its opening drive. Aided by a crucial fourth down conversion and a critical personal foul against the T-Birds, the Raiders found the end zone first on a quarterback sneak with 6:10 to play in the quarter.
The Thunderbirds responded almost immediately. A little over 30 seconds later, on DeSoto's second play from scrimmage of the game, Reed St. Columbia broke free for a 66-yard touchdown scamper – the first of three on the night.
Russell Brothers' extra point knotted the score at 7-7.
Both defenses tightened up and there was no more scoring until almost midway through the second quarter. Utilizing an effective running game, Kirk Academy controlled the time of possession most of the first half.
Kirk Academy found the end zone again, this time with 6:51 to play in the half. The score came on a 6-yard run.
DeSoto turned down the first of two opportunities to go for a field goal. A successful kick at this point would have cut the lead to 14-10 at the half. However, the T-Birds turned the ball over on downs at the Raider 8. Kirk Academy was content to run out the clock and take a 14-7 lead into the half.
A fired up T-Bird squad took the field in the second half. The opening drive began at the DeSoto 25 and ended with a 37-yard scoring run by St. Columbia with 8:20 to play in the third quarter. Brothers extra point tied the game again, this time at 14-14. The drive was aided by a 17-yard run by Ryan Self.
There was no more scoring until the 6:51 mark of the final quarter. St. Columbia's third score was of the shorter variety, just three yards out. A bobbled snap on the conversion forced the T-Birds to pass the ball, which fell harmlessly incomplete.
With a little more than half a quarter remaining, DeSoto took the lead for the first time.
The T-Birds extended the lead to 28-14 with 3:33 to play when Griffin Christine powered his way across the goal line from six yards out. Quarterback Zac Manning ran in the 2-point conversion.
Kirk Academy put one last touchdown on the board with 17 seconds to play. The drive simply took too much time and the Raiders fell short, 28-20.
The Raiders scored almost as many points against the T-Birds as their other six opponents combined, 24. DeSoto also was hit with more penalties in the contest than they had encountered in their previous six outings.
Page 2 of 2 - This Friday, the Thunderbirds travel to Winona, Miss. to take on the Winona Academy Stars, 5-2. The Stars are coming off a 36-0 win over Carroll Academy.