Spartans win emotional game to clinch National Conference Playoff Berth
Just a few weeks after coming back from injury, a very scary moment occurred in the Spartans game on Saturday as quarterback Rashad Hector took a helmet to the head and had to get carried off the field on a stretcher.
Down 7-6, the Spartans rallied behind their fallen captain and battled back to win an emotional 14-13 game over the New Jersey Wolves to clinch the National Conference.
“It was a hard-fought game,” coach Kevin Moss said. “Even losing our captain, our leader, Rashad Hector. He said one thing before he left the game. He said to the backup quarterback ‘Eli it’s on you. Football team, it’s on you. Moss, I led by example, get this win.’”
The ensuing drive following Hector’s frightening injury, Elijah Jamison took the Spartans 43 yards down the field to take the lead thanks to Al-Khalif Thompson’s 11-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. Thompson capped off the play with a successful 2-pt. conversion to put the Spartans up 14-7.
Showing their resiliency, the Wolves fought right back, moving the ball 64 yards before a 21-yard reception touchdown put the score at 14-13.
Rather than going for the tie, it came down to a goal line stand between the Wolves dynamic running back, who had 16 carries for 94 yards in the game, and the battle-tested Spartan defense.
Vincent Moore pitched in to stuff the running back after a one-yard gain to put the Spartans in firm command of the game.
“You need it,” Moss said about the goal line stop. “At the end of the day, we bent as we’ve done in the past, but when the game’s on the line, the 2015 New Jersey Spartans come through. We did today.”
It was a powerful response by the team after Hector went down.
“That’s our leader,” Moss said. “That’s Superman right there. He did his best to lead us and even in injury he said get the job done and we did. That’s all that matters.”
Before he went out, Hector was 5-for-7 in the passing game for 35 yards. He also ran the ball four times for 25 yards.
Thompson led the ground game with 10 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown.
A scoreless game was broken in the second quarter by a 21-yard pick-six by William Shannon to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead after Greg O’Brien’s extra-point attempt was blocked.
Just like they did in the fourth quarter, the Wolves responded on the following drive, going 65 yards downfield before a two-yard rushing touchdown and took a 7-6 lead after the extra-point.
The Spartans won the turnover battle 2-0 as James Phillips also had an interception on a fake punt in the Wolves’ side of the field.
“Our leader definitely showed us the way and I’m happy to say we did him proud,” Moss said.
Now 8-1, the Spartans have one game left in the regular season next weekend before the playoffs begin.