ALBANY -- After two weeks of fourth quarter heroics on the road the Deerfield-Windsor Knights returned home Friday night to the familiar sights and sounds of Webb Memorial stadium.
The celebration of Homecoming meant more fanfare than usual and it was a picture-perfect night for football. With everything seemingly in their favor, the Knights were poised to put on a show.
That is until the game started and Deerfield found itself on the wrong end of a defensive battle.
Tattnall Square quickly quelled all excitement with a bruising ground game and stout defense, shutting out the Knights, 12-0.
“We played hard, but we had a lot of mental mistakes,” Deerfield fullback Grey Lanier said. “I guess all the Homecoming activities took our minds off the game.”
A matchup of the last two state champions, both teams entered the game with a 3-1 record. Points were anything but easy to come by for both teams, but in the end the Trojans (4-1) got the better of the Knights (3-2) by wearing them down on defense and not yielding the big play.
“We were one big play away from taking the lead, but it just never worked out,” Deerfield head coach Allen Lowe said.
The Knights caught a break in the first half when Antonio Watts recovered a fumble in the red zone during a punt return for the Trojans. But two plays later they gave the ball back when quarterback Tripp Presley went to the air for the first time only to find the hands of Trojan defender Blake Simmons.
Deerfield would not see its opponent’s side of the field again.
With no score at halftime Tattnall Square began a drive in the third quarter on its own 13-yard line. Despite a heavy dose of the run game, the Knights made things as difficult as they could for the Trojans with solid team tackling. But two big third-down plays kept the drive alive and the Trojans eventually made into Deerfield territory.
Sensing a run was imminent, the Knights bit on a fake toss to the right just in time for Ahmad Barron to slip up the middle and catch a 34-yard touchdown pass from Lane Watson for the game’s first points.
The Trojans added another score late in the fourth quarter when running back J.J. Battle broke loose for 36 yards.
“In a defensive battle like this it’s all about playing for 48 minutes, and we were able to do that [Friday night],” Tattnall Square head coach Clint Morgan said.
The Knights had a couple of opportunities during crunch time to tie or take the lead, but, ultimately, fell short of a third week of late-game magic.
Starting from the Trojans’ 31-yard line with a little more than two minutes in regulation, the Knights gave the ball to star running back Matthew Fox who provided hope with a big first down run. But after an incomplete pass and a pre-snap penalty, Presley was hit in the backfield and fumbled away the ball and Deerfield’s last chance for a comeback.
“We just have to play harder and make sure we are getting a good week of practice each time,” a glum Fox said.
The Knights now look to get back in the win column next week when they face their cross-town rival Sherwood Christian.