Oh so close for CCS

Lions fall to Cosby 7-6

Rafe Keyes, Concord Christian School junior wide receiver, makes an athletic catch over Cosby’s Ethan Shults and finishes in the end zone to score for the Lions. It would be the only Lions points in a heartbreaking 7-6 loss at CAK Friday evening, Oct. 6.
KNOXVILLE — Troy Fleming isn’t one to celebrate moral victories. But the Concord Christian School football head coach couldn’t help to feel proud of his team Friday night.

“I’m really proud of the way that we fought and I’m happy with the way we battled back and had a chance to win the game on our last [offensive] play,” Fleming said after the Lions came up on the short end of a 7-6 decision against Cosby at Christian Academy of Knoxville Oct. 6. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t win this game because we had a good week of practice and we’ve really been working hard.”

Concord (0-8) had a chance to win late but failed to convert a fourth down play from the Eagles 27-yard line with 2 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the contest.

The Lions might’ve come up just short of victory, but things couldn’t have started better for them on this night.

Cosby (3-4) fumbled on its first play from scrimmage and CCS’s Conner Quinlan recovered on the Eagles 22. Concord’s first offensive drive would stall and Grant Sillyman missed a 33-yard field goal with 8:25 remaining in the first quarter.

The two defenses took center stage early as the Eagles and Lions slugged through a scoreless opening frame. Concord’s defense was especially stout as it forced Cosby to punt on its first four possessions. The Lions also got interceptions from Rafe Keyes and Jason Klenkel.

“I thought our defense played really well,” Fleming said. “We made some big plays.

“When we looked at film on [Cosby], we knew that we could blitz them and rush off the ends. We were able to have some success with that.”

Cosby, however, would break the scoreless tie midway through the second quarter when Andrew Lillard threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Michael Darby. Kicker Eduardo Gonzalez would add the extra point to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:15 remaining in the second stanza.

After halftime, the Lions were a little lethargic on the third-quarter kickoff and Cosby recovered at the CCS 25.

The Lions, however, would avoid potential disaster when their defense held the Eagles on downs. The special teams mistake still left Fleming disappointed.

“For me, it’s about doing the little things,” he said. “Those kinds of things will get you beat.”

After stopping the Eagles, Concord engineered a six-play 73-yard drive that was culminated when quarterback Gage Maynard threw a 30-yard scoring strike to Keyes, who made a leaping grab that reeached the end zone to make the score 7-6 with 7:32 left in the third stanza.

The drive opened with a big play as Maynard had a 33-yard completion that would set the tone.

Keyes made the catch sound easy.

“I just did what coach said. I went up and I came down with the ball,” Keyes said. “I did everything I could to get it over.

“I just got right over there and was able to make the catch.”

The junior also said he was pleased with his squad’s effort.

“Overall, I’d say that we played pretty well,” Keyes said. “But we had some mistakes and it was just the little things.”

Cosby head coach Kevin Hall said he was impressed with the Lions.

“They took it to us tonight,” Hall said. “They’re a tough football team and they’ll win some ballgames.

“This win was big for us tonight. Any road win is big for us because we’re really struggling to get to where we want to be. They really gave us all they had tonight.”