Lenny Gregory needed to see his Collins Hill (3-1) football team win a different kind of game.
He already knew his offense had firepower after scoring a total of 80 points in its two wins. But could his defense grind out an ugly game against a Rome (1-2) team that wouldn’t go away?
Richard Ransom answered the question early in the fourth quarter.
With the game locked in a 14-14 stalemate, the junior linebacker jumped in front of a Caleb Ellard pass and picked it off, returning it down inside the 10. Two plays later, Spenser Anderson pounded in his second touchdown of the game to put Collins Hill on top 21-14, and they would add another touchdown to secure a 28-14 victory on homecoming at Fahring Field.
“We were just kind of waiting on somebody to make a play,” Collins Hill head coach Lenny Gregory said. “It could have been one of their kids, it could have been one of ours. Richard Ransom is such a long incredible athlete, and he was just right in that window. He made a great play, and it set up a touchdown.”
There were fireworks right from the start. Rome’s Bryson Hill returned the opening kickoff back to the Collins Hill 30, giving the visitors a golden chance to strike first. Ellard uncorked a deep ball on the first play, but Collins Hill’s jack-of-all-trades star Travis Hunter was there to intercept the pass in the end zone.
“We didn’t get settled enough on that first drive,” Rome head coach John Reid said. “I was proud of our effort defensively after we settled into what our scheme was.”
Ellard shook off his early interception well, driving the Wolves 65 yards down the field to tie the game late in the first quarter. Rome converted three third downs on the drive that was punctuated by a 25-yard pass from Ellard to Martel Hight.
After a botched punt snap set Rome up inside the Collins Hill 10 just before halftime, Ellard called his own number on the first play and scored up the gut to tie the game 14-14.
A scoreless third frame meant that Ransom’s interception and Anderson’s subsequent score broke a long stalemate early in the fourth quarter, putting the pressure back on Rome. Collins Hill’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, giving the offense a chance to put the game away with 6:36 left.
Horn’s biggest moment of the night might not have even come with his arm. On fourth-and-5 with under four minutes to play, his hard count managed to draw Rome offsides to give the Eagles a fresh set of downs.
“We had nothing on,” Reid said. “We don’t go on counts, we read kids. There was no reason, just an aggressive kid that made a mistake. That was really a backbreaker there.”
Five plays later, he hit Hunter for a bubble screen and the star receiver did the rest by taking the ball 35 yards to the end zone. Horn finished the night with 26-for-36 with 215 passing yards, and his final throw of the night was the dagger.
The drive spanned nine plays and took 4:56 off the clock; a gritty drive to salt away a gritty game.