Cross needs bigger boat vs. St. James
The Cross Trojans may have lost Friday night’s battle, 54-48 to the St. James Sharks, but in the long run they may have won the war.
Coming into the tilt, the Trojans sported a 1-3 record, and just 12 minutes into the game looked well on their way to 1-4.
Though a valiant comeback tied the score in the second half 48-48, and big defensive stops put the Trojans in position to take the lead, this was a game Cross was not destined to win as St. James pushed a last-minute touchdown across to seal the win.
But to every supporter of the blue and white, Cross just turned its season around.
“I thought our kids played hard and did some good things tonight,” said Coach Shaun Wright. “This is the type of game that shapes the character of future games. We played about as good as you can play offensively.”
Midway through the second quarter the picture didn’t look quite so rosy. St. James had just scored again and the Trojans were down 35-13.
Except for a pair of Diamonte Evans touchdowns for CHS, the game was a blowout. The Sharks were scoring at will. The Trojans looked beaten, beaten up, and out of gas.
But with one snap, all that changed.
Trojans quarterback Jamal Matthews lofted a floater down the home sideline where Dionte Evans had circled behind a St. James defensive back. Evans caught the pass in stride and galloped untouched 31 yards for a touchdown to bring Cross to 35-21 to go into the locker room.
In the second half Cross would erase the two-touchdown deficit to tie the score 48-48 in the fourth quarter, buoyed by Diamonte Evans’ third touchdown of the night, a 65-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter.
“Our young linemen are starting to grow up,” Wright said. “We just have to keep showing up.
“We will go as far as our front lines take us.”
Matthews connected on his second touchdown pass of the night, a 21-yarder toss across the middle to Jaywuan Washington to pull CHS within a touchdown at 41-33.
Following a three-and-out defensive stop, Shepherd capped a 70-yard drive with a 41-yard touchdown run which tied the score at 41.
Shepherd followed that run with a 38-yard scamper to the 4 yard line and then put the exclamation point on the 48-yard drive with a four-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter to knot the score 48-48.
“I asked our team at the end of the game if they were still on the train and everyone stood up and said yes,” Wright said. “We never talk about state championships around here, and it’s really a process to get there.”
With the loss Cross fell to 1-4 on the season, but in Wright’s eyes it’s a good 1-4.
“Losing these games obviously hurt but it’s growing some of these kids up into men,” he said. “At the end of the day I may be labeled a dumb coach, but I will take that to see these guys change their mindset about life.
“There is no quit around Cross, our fans have been great but the standard has been set and we have to do this the hard way this year. All I can ask for is to leave it all on the field and if tonight was a turning point for us then you will literally have to knock us out to beat us.”
The Trojans host Lake Marion on Friday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. Region 6A play begins Oct. 4 at home against Military Magnet.