Damon Boggs supplied his share of the frenzy as host Tates Creek pulled out a 41-36 victory over Mercer County in a wild opening game of the iHigh Football Frenzy Friday night.
Boggs returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, the second one an electrifying, zig-zagging 87-yarder with 3:40 left that rallied the Commodores to within 36-35.
Mercer County's Jamel Taylor blocked the extra point to keep the Titans in the lead.
But not for long.
Tates Creek kicker Myles Atkins recovered his own onside kick, and three plays later Brandon Shrout's 11-yard TD run salvaged the win and ended the Commodores' seven-game losing skid, which spanned two seasons.
"I hope we took a step in learning how to win tonight," said a relieved Tates Creek Coach Mike Harmon.
That Tates Creek needed a late rally was a shock, considering it led 29-7 midway through the third quarter.
"When we got that big lead, we got lazy," Boggs said. "But we showed a lot of heart and character when we got behind, and we were able to pull it out."
Credit Mercer County for a heck of a comeback, too.
Down three TDs, the Titans rallied to tie it in less than five minutes.
Under first-year coach Bill Mason, Mercer County returned a pair of interceptions for scores. Isaiah Burrus went 44 yards with his pick, and Matthew Sims went 25 yards with his. They were sandwiched around a short TD run by Dexter Banks.
After Sims' score, Mercer County tied it 29-29 on a two-point conversion pass from Tre Dunn to Taylor.
"We fought hard," Dunn said. "We just kept making plays. We showed we have the determination to come back no matter what the scoreboard says."
Harmon said his team is "not used to success," so it may have relaxed when it got the big lead. Tates Creek's defense, special teams and clutch play on fourth down helped it build that lead.
The Commodores got a safety on the second snap of the night when Jacob Kadel tackled Russell Mays for a 14-yard loss in the end zone.
When Mercer County fumbled a punt a few minutes later, Tates Creek capitalized with a short drive and a TD by Tyler Love.
Quarterback Dee Christopher threw a pair of TD passes on fourth-and-goal. One went 10 yards to Anthony Bell, and the other nine yards to LaRobert Bett.
Jontez Jones led the winners with 75 yards rushing. Christopher threw for 80 yards.
Boggs, who had a 95-yard kickoff return in the first half, has three returns for scores in two games. He ran back a punt 38 yards for a TD last week against Lafayette.
Mercer County 0 7 7 22—36
Tates Creek 8 14 7 12—41
TC—Safety (tackle in end zone by Jacob Kadel). TC—Tyler Love 1 run (kick blocked). TC—Anthony Bell 10 pass from Dee Christopher (Myles Atkins kick). MC—Jamel Taylor 5 pass from Tre Dunn (J.J. Blau kick). TC—Damon Boggs 95 kickoff return (Atkins kick). TC—LaRobert Bett 9 pass from Christopher (Atkins kick). MC—Isaiah Burrus 34 interception return (Blau kick). MC—Dexter Banks 2 run (Blau kick). MC—Matthew Sims 25 interception return (Taylor pass from Dunn). MC—Russell Mays 49 run (Blau kick). TC—Boggs 87 kickoff return (kick blocked). TC—Brandon Shrout 11 run (pass failed).
Records—Mercer County 0-2; Tates Creek 1-1