DECATUR — MacArthur's defense just wouldn't budge.
Only a yard separated Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin from a two-possession lead at the start of the fourth quarter, up 32-27.
But the Generals hunkered down and stonewalled the Cyclones for a turnover on downs and then QB Amir Brummett turned the Central State Eight Conference world upside down two plays later.
Brummett danced and weaved his way around the Cyclones for a dazzling 84-yard touchdown run and the Generals held SHG on its next three possessions to pull off the shocking 34-32 upset on Friday night.
It was the Cyclones' first conference loss in the regular season since Sept. 17, 2010 against Rochester, 13-10.
“It's wonderful,” MacArthur defensive lineman Malik Barbee said. “We practiced so hard the whole summer and I told them it was going to happen. It happened. It's just a wonderful moment — a wonderful moment.
“A lot of people doubted us, but I told them it was going to happen.”
It was so unexpected because MacArthur had accrued just two wins all together the last two seasons. That included a 61-21 loss at SHG last year. Despite the drubbings, the Generals (2-0) kept the faith.
“The moment for us is really two years in the making,” MacArthur coach Derek Spates said. “For two years, we took some poundings from some people and our kids just stuck with it. I told the senior class two years ago when they were sophomores that we could do some special things and they believed that. Tonight, we realized what kind of potential we have.”
SHG (1-1) unraveled with four turnovers — two directly resulted in MacArthur touchdowns and it happened on the opening drive of the game when Armon Brummett recovered a fumble down the far sideline and returned it 56 yards for a TD.
“Our defense did a good job,” Spates said. “They got us some big plays. They never stop fighting. They never stop hitting.”
MacArthur DB Jacoby Cunningham then jumped a short pass and returned the interception 50 yards for another defensive TD to reclaim a 27-20 advantage to start the third quarter.
“I wanted it more,” Cunningham said. “We wanted a stop and we wanted this game badly. I had to come out and do it for my team.”
The other scores belonged to Amir Brummett.
He burned the Cyclones with his feet, sure, but what also propelled MacArthur to victory was with his arm.
He heaved two TD bombs in the first half to generate momentum and head into the locker room with a 20-20 tie, and completed 11 of 23 passing attempts for 257 yards and two TDs.
Then came the nifty, game-winning run in the fourth quarter with 10:39 remaining. Amir also piled up 146 yards and one TD on the ground.
It was all despite a nagging groin injury that's lingered around since surgery in July.
It was worth it.
“I was just trying to make plays for my team,” Amir Brummett said. “We knew they were going to have an incredible defense, which they did. I've got a headache right now, but it was just plays when they needed to be made.
“It's the biggest win in MacArthur history. It's just joy and happiness right now.”
Game of turnovers
MacArthur also committed four turnovers itself.
None seemed to be bigger than Amir Brummett's interception in the end zone, trying to lob up to his twin brother Armon Brummett with a slim 27-26 lead in the third quarter.
It led to an SHG touchdown, giving the Cyclones the 32-27 advantage.
MacArthur's fourth quarter defense is the stuff of legends.
After the critical goal line stand at the 1, Darionne Brown recovered a fumble near the red zone and later Barbee wrapped up SHG running back Steven Phillips on 4th and inches inside the 20 with just over 3 minutes left.
“Coach told me to be unblockable, so I just ran through there as hard as I could and I just got the tackle,” Barbee said. “He came right to me.”
“We're not going to be little dogs and tuck our tails. We're going to try to go out and fight the rest of the fight. We're not going to stop until the clock is at zero.” – Amir Brummett on the fourth quarter goal line stand.