MYRTLE POINT — Myrtle Point football coach Jimmy Farmer wrote a date on the board in the Myrtle Point locker room before Friday night’s contest against Prospect and told his group to reflect on it.
The date was October 6, 2016, the last time the Bobcats won a home game. That date is now September 14, 2018 after the now eight-man Bobcats held off a late Prospect charge to earn their first win of the season 22-14 behind 146 yards and three touchdowns from senior Brodie Parrish.
“It was a big motivation,” Farmer said, “But it was good to get this win and get the monkey off our back.”
“(It feels) wonderful,” Parrish added.
The win is Myrtle Point’s first at all since 2016, as well, and the Bobcats’ first at eight-man.
It took some time adjusting to the pace and big-play nature of the game, but the transition is starting to become easier. Add in some extra numbers and Farmer is excited about the coming weeks. He had just nine players on the sideline in their opener, but bumped to 15 a week later and now will likely be up to 16, nearly doubling his numbers in two weeks. This allows the Bobcats to field a full scout team, meaning the first live reps of the week aren’t on Friday night.
“We’re a little deeper, we can rotate,” Farmer said. “You take away those little, dumb penalties and long runs and we’re holding them to even yards and stuff.”
Some of that depth played a part Friday night.
Prospect’s rushing numbers look pretty good — 211 yards on 47 carries with Nick Strahan and Nathan Glover accounting for that number together — but Strahan had a 63-yard jaunt in the first quarter and Glover had a 50-yarder in the fourth quarter. Take those out and Myrtle Point kept the Cougar offense largely stagnant, forcing four-and-outs consistently all night.
After Prospect fumbled on its first offensive play, Myrtle Point went right down the short field and scored, Parrish muscled through the defense for 30 yards on the drive, including a 14-yard touchdown, running through tackles and rolling over the goal line.
“That’s one thing Brodie has always prided himself on,” Farmer said of the senior’s rugged running style. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach him over the last four years and that’s one thing, he’s a hard runner, a downhill runner. One guy is not gonna take him down. Two, three, maybe.”
But Prospect returned fire, with Strahan busting his 63-yarder on a third-and-long counter play with only hustle preventing a touchdown.
Facing a first and goal from its own 2, Myrtle Point rose, pushing the Cougars back to the 3 where the drive ended with no points and the Bobcats leading 8-0.
Myrtle Point had a chance to extend its lead late in the first quarter, when a plodding, deliberate 10-play drive ended when Andrew Nelmes picked off a Tyler Beyer-Smith pass intended for Enrique Camacho at the Prospect 10.
Strahan repeatedly rammed into the Bobcat defense, helping push Prospect to the Myrtle Point 38, where it faced another third-and-long.
There, Glover hit Austin Leopoldo on a crossing pattern and the senior broke a few tackles, weaved into the middle of the field and scored, though Strahan couldn’t equalize with a two-point run and Myrtle Point led 8-6 at halftime.
Prospect started the third quarter by recovering a squib kick down its sideline, but could do nothing with the momentum and good field position, giving it back to Myrtle Point after again being stopped inside the Bobcat 10.
Myrtle Point, though, stalled out almost immediately and punted from the shadow of its own goal post. A blind side block during the return, though, pushed Prospect back to its 49. The Cougars tried a fake punt on fourth-and-10 from the Bobcat 40 six plays later, but Myrtle Point sniffed it out for a 7-yard loss.
Parrish capitalized a play after, breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage, spinning, then racing to the pylon for a 38-yard touchdown and a 16-6 lead after Beyer-Smith ran in the two-point conversion with 3:36 to play in the third quarter.
Myrtle Point forced a Prospect fumble on the ensuing possession, Gage Jones recovering it at the Bobcat 36.
“Honestly, that’s the best I’ve seen our defense play in years,” Parrish said. “I mean, nothing was perfect, don’t get me wrong. But almost everyone was running and doing their jobs right and filling out the tasks they were told to do. Our D-ends did a great job containing the outside and bringing outside runs back in.”
Myrtle Point took over with 46 seconds left in the third quarter and finally gave it up after 12 plays and almost five minutes, but had nothing to show for it after a fourth-and-long pass was completed but short of first down, giving Prospect the ball at its own 9, down 10 points with 7:31 to play.
Again, Myrtle Point forced a four-and-out and got the ball right back and appeared to ice it. Parrish powered in a 14-yard touchdown to put the Bobcats up 22-6 with 3:59 to go, the season’s first win attainable.
But Prospect came right back. Glover ripped off his 50-yard run to get Prospect to the Bobcat 5, then Sean Jermain scores, then he hit Leopoldo for the two-point conversion, cutting Myrtle Point’s lead to one possession at 22-14.
Myrtle Point gave Prospect one last chance, punting it away with 1:07 left, but Jones slipped on the punt and it didn’t make it to midfield, giving Prospect good field position with a minute left.
Once again, though, Myrtle Point’s defense held. Nate Little picked off an Andrew Slaton heave as time expired at the Bobcat 10 and ran it back to midfield, sealing the emotional win in front of the anticipatory Bobcat crowd.
“It’s been awhile,” Farmer said. “We didn’t get a win last year, we got one this year. We said we’re getting this monkey off our back and start rolling. The atmosphere is a whole different thing too. That’s why out there after the game I said, ‘Remember this feeling. Remember how this feels.’”