Highland Home heartbreak: Flying Squadron falls to Reeltown, 8-7, in battle for Class 2A, Region 3 championship

Published 11:25 pm Friday, October 21, 2022

Highland Home’s shot at the Class 2A, Region 3 championship and a perfect regular season came down to its final drive in an 8-7 loss to Reeltown at Clay Jordan Stadium on Friday night.

The Flying Squadron took possession at their own 6-yard line with less than 50 seconds to play in a last-gasp effort to bring home a victory. On the final play of the game, Rebels defender Tae Martin intercepted a pass attempt over the middle by Flying Squadron quarterback Brice McKenzie.

“That’s five turnovers,” said Highland Home head coach Will Pouncey. “You ain’t supposed to be able to recover from that. We’ve been resilient, and we’ve made plays all year that kind of covered up our mistakes, but tonight, it cost us. We couldn’t recover from it and dig ourselves out of that hole … They’re a good football team. 

“They put it in the end zone, then got the two-point conversion. I felt confident we were going to go down and take the lead, but it didn’t happen. Hat’s off to Reeltown. We’re just going to learn from our mistakes, and we’re going to go back to work and get ready for the playoffs.”

An opportunistic defense and clutch touchdown catch proved to be enough for Reeltown to spoil Highland Home’s perfect regular season and region title hopes..

Defensively, the Rebels forced five Flying Squadron turnovers – a fumble and four interceptions, three which came from Arthur Woods. 

In addition to his defensive dominance, Woods led Reeltown with 62 rushing yards on 14 carries and caught the game-winning pass from quarterback Jake Hornsby via a two-point conversion with 6:01 to play in regulation.

“He’s consistent,” said Rebels head coach Matt Johnson of Woods and his effort. “He’s a great player … What a great game. That’s a heckuva football team. If they do what they’re supposed to do, and we do what we’re supposed to do, and hopefully, everybody does what they’re supposed to do, maybe we’ll see each other again.”

The touchdown preceding the two-point conversion came courtesy of a 29-yard pass from Hornsby to wide receiver Hagan Lewis, who caught the ball while lying on his back in the end zone after it slipped past a Flying Squadron defender attempting to bat the ball down.

The two best teams in 2A, Region 3 battled to a 0-0 stalemate through three quarters. Reeltown’s first two drives in the second half ended by turning the ball over on downs inside the red zone.

“We’ve still got to clean some things up,” Johnson said. “They exposed us on a few things. We’ve got another game next week, so we’ve got to turn around and enjoy this one tonight, prepare for next week, and get ready for the playoffs.”

The Flying Squadron put together its lone scoring drive of the night with 8:08 left to play. McKenzie found wide receiver Keldric Faulk along the right sideline for a 45-yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell arrived at the stadium prior to kickoff to see his Seminole commit in action during a recruiting visit.

“I’ve said this 100 times – Keldric Faulk is going to make millions of dollars one day, regardless if he ever plays another down of football,” Pouncey said. “That’s the type of person he is. Of course, he’s an amazing athlete. We’re just extremely proud of him, but he’s got a lot of football left to play at Highland Home. We’re going to make sure of that.”

Reeltown (7-1, 7-0) closes its regular season at Zion Chapel, while Highland Home (9-1, 6-1) enters a bye week before the start of the playoffs.

“We’ll get some guys healthy, but that ain’t our main priority,” Pouncey said. “Our main priority is we’ve got to get better and do what we’ve got to do to be prepared to make a playoff run because we plan on playing a lot of playoff games.”