MUSCLE SHOALS — After giving Muscle Shoals the lead with his foot, Blake Logan clinched a victory with his hands. Logan kicked two field goals and had the game-saving interception with 40 seconds left to preserve the Trojans’ thrilling 22-21 victory over Pinson Valley in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.
It capped off quite a week for Logan, who on Wednesday signed a national letter of intent to play baseball at Auburn.
“It’s been a fun week that’s for sure,” Logan said. “God has really blessed me, and I give all the credit to him.”
With 5:45 remaining in the game and Muscle Shoals trailing 21-19, Logan lined up for a critical 32-yard attempt. He has made a few field goals this season, but none were so pressure-filled. But Logan didn’t let the pressure get to him, and split the uprights with the kick.
“Coach Basden talked to us this week about positive self talk,” Logan said. “That’s what I do in both baseball and football. I just clear my mind and talk to myself. Kicking is such a mental thing. You’ve got to stay positive and be prepared for every situation.”
Logan, who also made a 32-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half to put the Trojans up 10-7 at halftime, has a good mentor to look up to. His father, Joel Logan, kicked at Mississippi State from 1987-1990 and converted the third-most field goals in school history.
“He’s worked with me a little bit,” Logan said of his father. “I just listen to what he says because he knows what he’s talking about, having kicked in the SEC for four years.”
After Logan’s field goal gave Muscle Shoals the one-point lead, Pinson Valley had two chances to win the game in the final minutes. The Indians drove to the Muscle Shoals 24-yard line, but the drive stalled, and Hunter Middleton missed a 42-yard field goal wide right. It was his second missed field goal of the game.
Muscle Shoals was able to pick up one first down, but had to punt with 1:42 remaining, and Pinson Valley took over at its own 31 with no timeouts left. The Indians drove to midfield, but on fourth down, quarterback Matthew Garrett tried to find his standout receiver Earnest Robinson on a sideline route. Cornerback Levi Fell tipped the ball into the air and Logan picked it off from his linebacker position to seal the victory.
“I was just trying to run with the guy,” Logan said. “Levi did a great job to get a hand on it and tip it into the air. I just wanted to hang onto it and get down.”
The final frantic minutes were a microcosm of the entire game, which was a back and forth affair from the start.
After a scoreless first quarter, Pinson Valley got on the board first with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Garrett to Robinson in the first minute of the second quarter. Muscle Shoals bounced back to tie the game on its next drive, with fullback Weston Allen bulling his way in the end zone from seven yards out. After Demarian King thwarted a potential Pinson Valley scoring drive with an interception inside the 20, the Trojans drove down and took the lead on Logan’s first field goal with 16 seconds left in the half.
The two teams traded the lead twice in the third quarter, with Pinson Valley scoring first on a 6-yard scoring toss from Garrett to Robinson. Robinson finished the game with 130 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions. But once again, Muscle Shoals responded on its next drive, as Tyler Jackson capped a 72-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. Jackson, who finished the game with 175 yards rushing, was injured in the fourth quarter and carted off the field on a stretcher with an apparent head injury. Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden said Jackson had full movement and feeling in his extremities and the stretcher was just for precaution.
Pinson Valley retook the lead moments later, as Garrett threw a screen pass to Nickolas Gibson, who raced 64 yards for a score to put the Indians up 21-17 with 4:27 left in the third quarter. Garrett finished the game with 289 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Muscle Shoals then drove down inside the Pinson Valley 10-yard line but was stopped on fourth down at the 1. But on the next play, Garrett was tackled in the end zone for a safety. After the free kick, the Trojans drove down inside the 20 to set up Logan’s winning field goal.
Basden said he was proud of the way his team came back from multiple deficits to scrape out a win.
“I thought they did a great job of maintaining and beleving what we are doing,” Basden said. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity and always seem to respond. I’m blessed to have the players that we do.”
Muscle Shoals should be in for another battle next week, as the Trojans will host Hartselle in a rematch of a regular season classic that Muscle Shoals won 28-21 with a touchdown in the final seconds.
“Harselle will be well prepared for us,” Basden said. “There won’t be any secrets. I expect it to be another battle.”