2022_09_23 MBA at BA Varsity Football-6.jpg

A big defensive play late helped Montgomery Bell Academy secure a spot in the TSSAA DII-AAA championship game following a thrilling 28-27 win at home Friday over McCallie Academy of Chattanooga.

After McCallie (10-3) pulled within one point with 45 seconds remaining on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jay St. Helaire to Andreï Dèlinois, the Blue Tornado went for two points and the lead.

After scoring on a pair of touchdowns on fourth down earlier in the game, MBA (12-0) a made stop and then Payne Daniels recovered the onside kick that followed to secure victory.

Tied 14-14 at halftime, MBA took the lead on a Marcel Reed touchdown pass to Hutton Durrett and then a 45-yard bomb down the sideline five minutes later to Claiborne Richards for the 28-14 advantage.

Reed, an Ole Miss commit, finished the game completing 15-of-23 attempts for 211 yards and 4 touchdowns. The shifty quarterback also added 89 yards on 8 carries for the Big Red. Stats are unofficial as of press time.

Less than three minutes later, McCallie answered as St. Helaire led a long scoring drive highlighted by a 50-yard pass completion and a 3-yard touchdown run.

St. Helaire made his presence known all night and finished with 205 yards on 18-of-26 passing as well as 67 yards and two scores rushing for the Blue Tornado (10-3).

The Big Red scored just before halftime when Reed marched the team down the field with three straight accurate throws including a 36-yard bullet to Ty Byrd to tie the game 14-14 at the break.

Reed opened the scoring on the game’s opening drive as well. After missing on his first three pass attempts of the game, Reed kept the offset drive alive with his feet and then connected with Blake Ragsdale on a 9-yard touchdown pass and the early 7-0 lead.

McCallie would later take the lead by scoring not one, but two fourth-down touchdowns.

First, St. Helaire scored on a 10-yard run on fourth down with 5:16 remaining in the second quarter. Following an interception thrown by Reed, McCallie had another fourth on that drive but called a timeout to discuss the play call.

The teams came out of the timeout and the Blue Tornado ran to the left side with running back Ja’Von McMahan, who broke one tackle and scampered for a 61-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead with 5:16 remaining in the second quarter.

MBA will face Baylor (10-2), also out of Chattanooga, on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in Chattanooga at Finley Stadium for the DII-AAA championship.

In the semifinals, Baylor defeated Brentwood Academy 44-39 by stopping the Eagles a yard short of the end zone on the final play of the game.