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CA upset by Patrician 22-20 in state finals

By Scott Sickler

Times-News Sports Editor

TROY, Ala. — The Chambers Academy Rebels thought they had won its first-ever AISA 1A state championship in exciting fashion Friday with a under a minute left in the title contest against the Patrician Saints.

Think again.

CA junior running back C.J. Lyons electrified the big crowd with a stunning, nearly 70-yard scoring run with under a minute left, only to have the potential, game-winning TD called back on a phantom holding penalty.

In a controversial finish, Patrician held off CA 22-20 to win its ninth state championship, leaving Rebel fans stunned in disbelief. Bitterness, disbelief, shock and stunned were just some of the words to describe a gut-wrenching loss, when it appeared CA had won its first state title and did so in Hollywood-like fashion.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as for the third year in a row, CA lost in the state finals and dropped to 0-5 all-time in state championship games. Of the five championship game defeats, three: 1) Autauga in 1999, 28-27 on a missed two-point PAT run in the final seconds; 2) Marengo in 2016, 34-33, in the last 30 seconds of the game; and 3) Patrician 22-20 Friday, this was the most painful of them all as it appeared they won the game on an amazing athletic play only to see it negated on a controversial call. You hate to see a state championship won (or lost in this case) on a very questionable call.

However, to be blunt, CA also hurt themselves with a plethora of missed scoring chances and in a state final, you simply can’t not cash in and expect to win, regardless of an officials call. That’s the bottom line, as painful as it may be.

The Rebels turned the ball over on downs on five occasions inside the Patrician 30. CA left the ball on the 4, 7, 17, 17 and 27 and for five excellent scoring chances, scored no points. In a two-point game, if CA had just converted one TD or just one field goal, they would have won. CA fans are also upset as well on an 87-yard scoring pass play for Patrician earlier in the game when it was clear to all who watched, that the Saints had not one, two or three linemen downfield, but four, yes, four linemen downfield and yet no flag on the play. CA coaches vehemently protested but to no avail as the play stood for a Patrician touchdown.

CA fell behind early at 7-0 in the first but rebounded to tie the game on a 14-yard run by Lyons at 4:34. The Rebels took the lead 14-7 when Blake Sheppard fired a 42-yard scoring strike to Lyons and with 2:40 left in the first, it was 14-7 Rebels.

Surprisingly, the rest of the scoring came in the second quarter and none in the second-half. Patrician tied it up at 14-all at 6:37 of the second and took the lead at 22-14 on the 87-yard pass play that yes, featured four Saints linemen downfield on the play and no call. CA came back to narrow the deficit to 22-20 when Hunter Davis rambled 48 yards with just 41 seconds left in the half to make it 22-20 Patrician.

While there was a ton of big plays, controversial calls and non calls and a season of drama all wrapped into the second-half, it was for CA fans another bitter defeat and hearts broken yet again.

“This was a game where we had it all right in front of us and we did some uncharacteristic things we haven’t done all year,” said veteran CA coach Jason Allen. “The biggest thing that stands out is we were inside the ten-yard line multiple times (five times inside the Patrician 30) and came away with no points. The thing that really sticks out is the holding call late in the game on the touchdown (Lyons TD run) but if we do what we were supposed to do, then we don’t leave the game in the hands of an official. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the only lesson we can learn from the situation. This one is going to be a really tough page to turn but we will get past it and it will make us stronger. Our seniors really wanted this badly but it won’t diminish the fact they finished the last three years of their career with a 34-5 record and three state runners up. I really wish I could have found a way as their head coach to make a championship happen but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards. When we do win it, and we will, it will be for all those teams that came up just a little short. The 2017 “ALL4ONE” team will always be one of the greatest in school history and one I will not soon forget.”