Chambers Academy vs. Southern Academy AISA A high school football state champion

Chambers Academy quarterback Payton Allen (10) is tackled while carrying the ball during the Chambers Academy vs. Southern Academy A AISA A high school football state champion game in Troy on Friday.

TROY — Chambers Academy failed to follow through on several big-play opportunities in the Class A state title game Friday, but the team had one more shot late to regain the lead. Unfortunately for the Rebels, another miscue proved too much to overcome.

A fumble on the Rebels’ final offensive drive sealed the team’s fate in a 14-8 loss to Southern Academy. The game-ending turnover was unfortunately fitting for Chambers (11-2, 4-0), which had 140 more yards of offense than Southern (10-1, 3-1) but allowed the Cougars to capitalize again and again on mistakes.

PHOTO GALLERY: Check out photos from the Chambers Academy vs. Southern Academy football game in a gallery at the end of this story.

With its fifth consecutive state title game appearance now in the books, Chambers has a 1-4 record in those games. The team's eight-point output was its lowest in a game since a 47-6 loss to Abbeville Christian in September 2015.

“Our kids fought hard. I can't blame them. I just did a terrible job as the offensive coordinator and the head coach,” Chambers head coach Jason Allen said. “We hadn't scored that few points in five years. It was just a poor performance on my part, not having my guys ready.”

The game’s momentum swung solidly in the Cougars’ favor with under one minute to go in the third quarter.

With Chambers clinging to an 8-0 lead, the Rebels punted the ball deep into Cougars’ territory toward Foster Hinton, who haphazardly fielded the ball on the Southern eight-yard line. Hinton took off down the left sideline and allowed his blockers to get in position, which provided the senior a lane to run through.

Hinton cut back to the right once he got into Chambers territory then won a foot race to the end zone for a 92-yard score. The Cougars then converted a trick-play two-point conversion on a pass from kicker Hayden Campbell to leave the game tied 8-8 with 36 seconds remaining until the fourth quarter.

Another Chambers mistake on special teams provided the Cougars a valuable scoring opportunity in the final quarter of action.

Following a Rebels’ punt that actually lost a yard, Southern took over on the Rebels’ 45-yard line eager to make Chambers pay. The Cougars came through with a seven-play, 45-yard drive that featured nothing but runs, the final one being quarterback Cal Webb’s one-yard push into the end zone.

Webb’s touchdown gave the Cougars a 14-8 lead with 5:05 remaining in the game.

Jason Allen emphasized how crucial the two special-teams errors were in the game’s final outcome.

“That was huge. You've got to play all three parts (of the game),” Allen said. “We didn't play all three parts as well as they did, and that was the difference in the ballgame.”

The Rebels’ final possession featured a promising start, as quarterback Payton Allen led the Rebels downfield on a 10-play drive that included an 11-yard pass to Caydon Smoot for the first of two third-down conversions. The drive, however, suddenly ended with a loose football on the Southern 43-yard line that the Cougars pounced on.

Chambers’ final drive seemed destined to end just like the team’s first of the second half of action.

After Payton Allen found Smoot on a 19-yard pass on 3rd-and-10 to avoid a three-and-out, Payton and Braxton Allen took turns carrying the ball and fighting their way well within Southern territory. Payton ended the drive in style, taking off right up the middle of the Rebels’ line for a 13-yard touchdown run.

Payton called his own number on the two-point conversion and successfully found the end zone to give the Rebels an 8-0 lead with 8:25 left in the third quarter. The junior ended the game with five completions for 62 yards and an interception along with 23 carries for 122 yards and the team’s only touchdown.

Chambers had a few scoring opportunities in the game’s first half, but none as promising as its first drive of the second quarter. The Rebels converted twice on third down and once on fourth down as part of a 15-play drive that saw Chambers get as far as the Southern seven-yard line.

After a false start moved them back, the Rebels opted to attempt converting a 4th-and-9 from the Cougars’ 12-yard line. Payton Allen’s pass to Josh Holliday fell to the ground just ahead of the junior receiver, ending the Rebels’ drive with no points.

To the Rebels’ defense’s credit, it held strong while the offense tried to figure things out. Outside of a 57-yard completion from Logan Kynard to Foster Hinton in the first quarter, the Cougars found little room with which to work.

Southern ended the opening 24 minutes of action with no points, just 79 yards and an 0-for-5 mark on third down.

Chambers’ dominance on defense continued well into the second half until Hinton’s huge return set in motion several minutes in which Southern could do no wrong and Chambers couldn’t get out of its own way.

That crucial stretch of play was enough for the Cougars to leave the field all smiles and the Rebels to leave with broken hearts and another tough title game loss to swallow.

“The sun is coming up tomorrow,” Jason Allen said. “This is a football game. There's a lot of things in life that have a lot more significance. What these kids have done the last five years has been nothing short of amazing, and they're champions in my book. I wouldn't trade them for anybody.”


Southern Academy 14, Chambers Academy 8

SOU — 0 0 8 6 - 14

CHA — 0 0 8 0 - 8

3rd Quarter

CHA — Payton Allen 13-yard run (2-point good), 8:25

SOU — Foster Hinton 92-yard punt return (2-point good), 0:36

4th Quarter

SOU — Cal Webb 1-yard run (2-point no good), 5:05

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