First, the facts.
Arab quarterback Ross Reynolds rushed 26 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns and was 12-of-20 passing for 163 yards and a TD as Arab scored 35 unanswered points in the final 22 minutes of the game Friday night to overcome a 35-14 deficit and beat West Point 49-35 for the Knights’ first win in their home stadium.
Arab running back Mathew Turnage rushed for 176 yards on 21 carries and scored two TDs.
Arab’s defense, led by Christian Eaton and assisted in the second half by Colby King, turned around a blowout in the third quarter and made it an Arab blowout by the end.
The Knights are 2-0 in head coach Lee Ozmint’s first season. They play their first 5A, Region 8 game Friday night at Brewer.
What the facts can’t tell you – if you weren’t there – is just how big – and stunning – a victory this was for the Knights. The game was tied 14-14 in the first quarter, thanks to a 25-yard TD pass from Reynolds to Will Hudson with 1:19 left in the period.
But by the time West Point QB Will Cochran had carved up Arab’s defense over the next quarter-plus, the Warriors led 35-14. (Cochran, by the way, was 22-of-35 passing for 300 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for 36 yards and two TDs, accounting for all five of West Point’s touchdowns.)
All seemed lost for the Knights with . But the insertion of King into the secondary and an almost possessed determination by the Arab offense beginning early in the third quarter, Arab not only turned almost certain defeat into one of the sweetest victories in school history, it did so going away.
“In the 20-plus years we’ve been doing Arab football, I never remember us having a 35-point turnaround,” said longtime Knights announcer Michael St. John.
Everyone insisted afterward that, while there may have been some raised voices, there were no magic words spoken at halftime.
Obviously, though, there were decisions made.
“Really, they all just decided to execute,” defensive coordinator Buddy Pell said. “We had no change in schemes. They were just somehow able to flip the switch.”
Ozmint was more blunt.
“I think they just decided they were tired of getting their tails kicked,” he said.
“Our kids played gritty (Friday night). I said before the game we would make the most improvement of the season between the first game and this game.
“Well, actually, we made the most improvement between the first half and the second half. I don’t care when it happened, I just care that it happened.”
Fans, students, players and coaches were all celebratory after the game, but Ozmint was quick to point out the obvious.
“This one’s over,” he said. “We’ll focus on Brewer now.”