It may have been the biggest play of the Cony football team’s biggest win of the season. It certainly was the prettiest.

And according to the head coach, it was thought up on the spot.

Cony was clinging to a 21-18 lead over Gardiner when quarterback Taylor Heath and the Rams faced a second-and-9 from their own 27. Heath dropped back in the pocket, saw Jordan Roddy through the pouring rain streaking down the middle of the field and threw it deep. The throw sailed over two Gardiner defenders and into Roddy’s hands for — a few dozen yards later — a touchdown and 27-18 lead. It was the final score of the game as the Rams held the Tigers off the board to clinch a trip to the Pine Tree Conference Class B playoffs.

It was perfect execution, from the throw to the catch. But according to coach B.L. Lippert, that was only part of what made the play stand out.

“By design, that was supposed to be on the outside,” he said. “They came out in a little cloud coverage, and Jordan on his own bent it toward the post.”

What was supposed to be a product of practice instead became an example in chemistry. Roddy adjusted after reading the defense, and Heath rolled with what his wideout was doing.

“I always know where he is, and he knows where I am,” Heath said.

The play came shortly after Gardiner had scored back-to-back touchdowns, and Lippert said the timing was perfect.

“He made maybe the play of the year with that catch over the shoulder, running full tilt between the safety and a cover 3 corner,” he said. “He’s a pretty talented player. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what the defense does, he can make a play on them.

“That was really the play of the game for us. It gave us the momentum back that they had kind of stolen to start the second half.”

• • •

Even after wrapping up a trip to the Class B playoffs, there was cause for concern for Cony and its fans.

Heath went down briefly with a knee injury in the fourth quarter Friday, the only catch to an otherwise dazzling night in which Heath threw for 361 yards en route to game MVP honors. The senior returned for the next series, however, and Lippert on Monday said he wasn’t worried about his availability for the Rams’ playoff game at Lawrence.

“He’s fine,” he said. “He’s 100 percent. … Barring anything else, he’ll be out there every snap.”

Lippert said Heath will continue to play his full two-way load at both quarterback and cornerback.

“It’s not that much of a concern,” he said. “It’s the playoffs, you’ve got to fire all your bullets this week.”

The senior was shaken up with just under five minutes to play when he rolled out to his left and was brought down by the Gardiner defense while throwing an incompletion to bring up fourth down. Heath clutched his leg but eventually got up, able to walk back, albeit gingerly, to the bench under his own power.

He was all smiles as the team celebrated after the game, however, and though he acknowledged that the knee was bothering him, he didn’t expect it to sideline him.

“It’s pretty tight right now, it hurts,” he said. “But I’m all set.”

He still got some ribbing from his coach, himself a former quarterback.

“I joked with him on Saturday that he was just tired from being on the field all night and he wanted to see if he could come off the field on wet conditions,” Lippert said. “He’s sometimes a little dramatic with his injury, as most quarterbacks tend to be.”

• • •

Even as its season came to an end, Gardiner got a good look at its future.

The Tigers’ playoff hopes were extinguished with the loss to Cony, but Gardiner hung close enough to put a scare into the Rams, and a big reason for that was running back Colin Foye, who ran for 157 yards on 22 carries.

Even better for coach Joe White and his team: Foye is a junior and will be back as the focus of the Tiger offense next year.

“He’s played everything. We’ve flipped him from quarterback to wing back, tailback, and he makes plays,” White said. “He’s a junior, so you’ll be hearing more of Mr. Foye.”

Foye showed both elusiveness on the outside and strength on the inside, allowing him to score twice on runs of 22 and three yards. He was particularly effective in the first half, running for 110 yards and a score in the closing seconds as the Tigers went into the break down 21-12.

“He’s a great competitor,” White said. “All these kids are, really. Everyone that was out here (Friday) night had nothing but fight in them all night.”

• • •

Coach Stacen Doucette and Oak Hill would like nothing more than for the playoffs this year to end the way they did last year.

They’ve at least got the start taken care of.

Up next for the Raiders in the first round of the Class D South playoffs is Traip Academy, which they just got through beating, 33-13. It eerily mimics last year, when Oak Hill had the same rematch opener — also against Traip — on its way to its third straight Class D title.

The Raiders won both games last year. They’re hoping for the same result this time.

“We know that we have things to work on, and I’m sure they’re working on things too,” Doucette said. “It’s going to be a chess match, and who can correct the mistakes the quickest and the most efficiently.”

Doucette said bouncing back and playing a team for a second straight week presents a unique challenge.

“It adds a new wrinkle because you’ve got to stop their best plays and work on plays you might have struggled (executing),” he said. “There’s an added element to the preparation.”

Still, Doucette said the goal is the same with a familiar opponent as with an unfamiliar one: Vary the attack and keep the other team guessing.

“We treat each week separately,” he said. “We have our staple of things that we like to do and we try to itemize each game with a different wrinkle in each gameplan. We always try to do that.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM


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