Photo/James Pugh

The critical thing was Sylva Bay Academy didn’t panic. 

A go-ahead score by Columbia Academy with less than two minutes left on the game clock, Sylva-Bay Academy was left with two choices last Friday night – fold under pressure or win the ball game. The Saints did the latter, thanks to a three-score night by junior back Ty Crosby.

Head football coach Terry Underwood complimented the way his team never panicked under pressure.

“To be honest, I didn’t feel any panicked,” Underwood said. “When we got our return team together, I told our guys we have 1:38 left and no timeouts. I assured them that we could do this. 

“When you look at your team, you get a pretty good feeling about how they’re feeling. I didn’t see anyone on our team with a panicked look.”

Crosby – who was one missed tackle away from scoring the go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing kickoff – took the sweep around the right side from a yard out with 10 seconds remaining and scored the Saints’ winning touchdown. The junior back put Sylva Bay’s up early, 14-0, with two previous touchdowns before Columbia came marching back to take a 16-14 lead with 1:38 remaining.

Crosby’s late score gave Sylva Bay the ball game, 20-16.

“I compliment our kids,” said Underwood. “They’ve made a commitment this year to be as strong as they can be. We’ve put together a good season thus far.”

Sylva Bay had been there before, beating Try-County 17-14 in Week 1 on a last-minute score. Crosby’s all-out night gave Sylva Bay Academy its sixth “W” of the season, doubling its win total from a year ago.

Ty Crosby is our Week 8 Sports601 Powerade Player of the Week.

“Ty’s been a great player now for us for two years,” said Underwood. “He was our main guy last year as a sophomore. He’s a junior now. He’s a great kid number one, and he’s fun to coach. He’s a yes sir, no sir guy who comes from a great home. He’s improved a lot in his strength and speed.”

Underwood says he’s installed some new looks and new formations that features the junior back more.

“The one thing about Ty,” said Underwood, “is if you give him the ball going downhill if there are yards to be gained he’ll get it done. He’s got good speed and good toughness for not being a big kid. He’s just been a wonderful kid to coach. He helps our team tremendously.”

Crosby noted key runs by teammate Phillip Anderson that set up his game-winning score in the final seconds. 

“Anderson had three runs down the field that put us in a good position,” said Crosby. “On my run, I saw that the hole was clogged up, so I ran to the outside and was able to get in the end zone.”

Crosby and crew have two games left on the regular season schedule. Both are district matchups. This Friday night Sylva Bay travels to Ben’s Ford Academy, and the following week the Saints play host to Benton Academy. Two wins will equal the district title. Underwood, Crosby and the rest of the Saints are focused on finishing the regular season strong and winning the MAIS AA District 3 title. 

“We’re 1-0 in division,” said Underwood. “If we can win our last two, and our players know this, we’ll be district champions. It’s been close to a decade since Sylva Bay has won district. That is very important to me. I know its very important to our kids. If we can be district champions, it will be a great feat in the short amount of time I’ve been here, and it would be a salute to our kids for their work ethic and improvement they’ve made in this short amount of time.” 

“It’s been a special year,” added Crosby.