The Metro PCS Corky Kell Classic kicked off with an early 9 a.m. matchup between the Kell Longhorns and the Chattahoochee Cougars.
Kell took the ball first and would take a series before the offense heated up. Heavy pressure by Cougars linebacker Trey Hillman forced quarterback Matthew McGuigan into the early three and out. The Cougars took over on their 40-yard line and got their first chance to face a greedy Kell defense.
Chattahoochee was heavily penalized throughout the game and the first of their offensive miscues forced them into a 3rd and 15. The Longhorns’ secondary was glued to the receivers all morning and the Cougars’ quarterback, Travis Marshall, was forced into picking up yardage on the ground. A slew of Longhorns got a hand on Marshall and defensive end Michael Valero finished the tackle with force and jarred the ball out, allowing teammate Jay Moxey to recover it.
Kell’s offense took advantage of the turnover and, from the 28-yard line, woke up the Dome with the first score of the morning. The McGuigan screen went to Brendan Langley, who took care of the rest by freezing Cougars defender Dwayne Bartholomew and racing to the endzone.
Chattahoochee kept fighting back and, on the ensuing kick, Chase Nelson leveled Kell’s William Powe to free up a return to their 38-yard line. The Kell defense was everywhere and solid coverage with recurring pressure made it a difficult day for the Chattahoochee offense. The third-down screen to C.J. Leggett was brought down by William Powe and Michael Valero for a big loss.
The next Kell possession was helped out by three Cougars penalties including a pass interference call on Justin Jackson. Langley was doing it all for the Longhorns and Taylor Henkle was able to hit a big gain following his great perimeter blocking.
Chattahoochee free safety Josh Hearn was able to stop the momentum and intercept a pass intended for Langley, but once again the Kell defense would force a three and out. On the next possession Kell got into the red zone following a Langley fake punt first-down run and attempted a 21-yard field goal. This was the first of two Cameron Mussang attempts that were blocked by Hearn, who played a great game.
The defense started getting after Marshall and two big sacks in a row resulted in a safety and the 9-0 first-half lead. Chattahoochee would attempt a fake punt of their own late in the 2nd quarter and it cost them. Marshall tripped before he could break outside and Kell had the ball in Cougars territory. McGuigan was able to lead Langley into the endzone on a 27-yard pass and push the halftime lead to 16-0.
The third quarter opened with a new Cougars team and the defense was harassing the Kell backfield, not allowing any time for McGuigan. The offense came out busting up the Kell defense, and Nelson broke a 20-yard run and then took the handoff for a 10-yard touchdown. Marshall scored on the two-point conversion and the score closed to 16-8.
The Kell offense had nothing going until the early 4th quarter when they dialed up a reverse to Langley, who took it 63 yards and into Chattahoochee territory for the first time in the half. The Longhorns missed their second field goal attempt of the day, but the Longhorns’ secondary continued shutting down the pass.
Julian Burris was great in his coverage while still contributing as a starting receiver and punt returner. Burris took the punt all the way to the Chattahoochee 1-yard line after breaking about a dozen tackles before a penalty marked it back to the 16. After failing to cash in on the first two field goal attempts, Massung was able to nail a 34 yarder to put the lead at 19-8 with 4:00 left. Chattahoochee moved the ball down field but eventually Henkle got the interception that sealed the Longhorns victory.
“Chattahoochee is a championship team,” Kell head coach Derek Cook told his team after the victory. “We have a lot of talent on this team this year but there is only one football. We have to keep working hard and it is going to have to be a team effort each week.”