Vina edges THS 20-14 as time expires
VINA – On a cold and foggy Senior Night, Vina freshman Adam Pharr came up with the play of the game as the Red Devils edged Tharptown 20-14 in a Class 1A, Region 8 clash at Franklin-Hester Stadium.
With the game tied at 14, Tharptown had the ball at the Vina 36-yard line with one second remaining in regulation. But Pharr, who also had three receptions for 25 yards, stepped in front of a desperation pass at the 15-yard line and weaved his way downfield behind a slew of blockers to score the winning touchdown.
"He really surprised me because he's not very fast but he made a play for us, and his blockers did a good job during the return," said Vina coach Bill Smith. "It's just exciting for us, and I'm proud of all of our players.
"Tharptown played their hearts out and stopped us two or three times in the second half but sometimes it just takes one play to turn a game around."
Vina (2-6, 2-6) jumped out to a 14-0 lead on two scoring runs and a big defensive play in the first half.
Junior quarterback Morgan McCarley found the end zone on a 1-yard sweep with 4:16 left in the first period to put Vina ahead 6-0 and sophomore running back Channing Haithcock rumbled 39 yards to make it 12-0 with 1:39 left in the first.
Vina increased its lead to 14-0 only nine seconds into the second quarter on a safety by Dylan Garrett and Brent Townsend after a mishandled Tharptown punt.
But Tharptown (1-8, 1-7) stormed back in the second half as the Wildcats scored two third-quarter touchdowns.
After Vina fumbled the opening kickoff in the second half, Tharptown engineered a nine-play, 41-yard drive that included a 16-yard completion to Jacob Parker. Sophomore quarterback Brandon Cothrum scored a 1-yard touchdown and Parker ran in the 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 14-8.
After Tharptown's Nathan Gray tackled Townsend for a 4-yard loss to force a Vina punt, Cothrum connected with Manny Ricardo for a 15-yard completion and then hit Parker in stride down the right sideline for a 57-yard touchdown with 50 seconds left. On the Wildcats' 2-point conversion, Matthew Hester and Pharr tackled Parker to keep the score tied at 14.
In the fourth quarter, Tharptown stuffed two Vina drives inside the 2-yard line and Parker picked off a pass and returned it 40 yards before the game ended on Pharr's 85-yard interception return.
"I feel like we've done this all year – we've looked good at the beginning and then we start lagging," Smith said. "We have to play well for four quarters, and I think we needed a win like this to show our players what happens when you play a full game."
Haithcock led Vina with 90 yards on three carries, while Townsend had 62 yards rushing on 13 attempts. Cass White had a team-high seven tackles, while Joseph Barksdale had five tackles, including two for a loss and an 11-yard sack in the fourth quarter.
Cothrum was 9-of-22 for 168 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Parker had four receptions for 111 yards, while Ricardo caught four passes for 54 yards. Gray finished with five tackles, including three for a loss in the second half, and nine rushes for 51 yards. Trevor Hallmark added four carries for 43 yards.
Vina will play its home finale Friday against Hubbertville. Tharptown hosts Hatton Thursday in its season finale.