West 24, Powell 23 in OT

Rebels claim fourth straight region title

By Steve Williams

Some called it a classic.

West Head Coach Lamar Brown agreed, but also thought it was “old school football.”

Brown’s Rebels overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter and went on to defeat Powell 24-23 in overtime in the Region 2-5A championship game at Bill Wilson Field.

“In this day and time, I think this was an old school football game,” said Brown. “You run the ball and play defense and that’s what both teams hang their hats on.”

It wasn’t a Rivalry Thursday TV game, but it was a Thursday night thriller.

The LED lights went crazy when Patrick Schmid’s PAT kick in OT went straight through the middle of the uprights and the Rebels stormed the field followed by their fans.

Powell had the first possession in overtime and quarterback Deuce Rodgers, on third-and-goal, scored on a 5-yard keeper. But Dylan Stooksbury’s extra point attempt just missed wide left.

That left the door open for West to win. On third-and-goal at the 4, running back Marshaun Bowers was lined up in the backfield on the right hash mark. He took the handoff from QB Hunter Dance and raced around the left side to score, getting a key block from John Whitesell.

The region title was the fourth in a row for West, which won the state championship last season.

The Rebels will go into the playoffs with a 9-1 record and host Daniel Boone (3-6) Friday night. Powell (7-3) also will be at home in its playoff opener Friday against Tennessee High (7-3).

It’s possible the Rebels and Panthers could meet again in the third round.

“My hat’s off to Powell,” said Coach Brown. “Coach Lowe does a great job with that football program. His kids are well coached and they play really hard. That was a really good football team we beat.

“And then on my kids, I’m so proud of the way they fought. We’re fighters. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always well executed. But our kids are prepared to fight 48 minutes. That’s what we are hanging our hat on right now. It seems like they find a way.”

Powell Coach Matt Lowe said: “A whole lot of credit goes to West. They made the plays when they needed to.

“Obviously, my frustration as the guy that works with the offense is that we had some opportunities in the third quarter to add to our lead and try to pull away a little bit and we couldn’t do that.

“And then we turn around there in the fourth quarter, and there are some big third downs and some big fourth downs. I thought our defense had a chance to make a play and hold on to the lead, but we weren’t able to do that.”

Lowe also said the overtime “tells you how even these two teams really are and how similar these two teams really are.

“I’m proud of my kids’ efforts. We’ve just got to make plays when they are there.”

The game was full of big plays and great individual performances.

The first quarter was scoreless and featured the punting of West’s Jones Bollig. Midway through it, the junior punted a high and beautiful spiral that turned over and rolled to the Powell 17-yard line – a 56-yard punt. He had two other 40-yard punts and two 38-yarders. And with the score tied in the fourth quarter, Jones made an athletic play, pulling down a high snap that could have been disastrous, and then barely getting the punt off.

In the second quarter, Powell’s Rodgers completed a 14-yard pass to tight end Matthew Clayton on third-and-12 which led to Stooksbury’s 33-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

West finally got on the board late in the first half when wide receiver Connor Cummings made a cut to get inside his defender and scored on the 32-yard pass from Dance, giving the Rebels a 7-3 lead.

Only 1:01 remained in the half, but a 42-yard kickoff return by Connor Wheeler set up first-and-10 at the West 38. The Panthers worked the clock and used their timeouts perfectly. A 10-yard pass from Rodgers to Fabby Neiwoh on fourth-and-7 moved the sticks. After a 13-yard run by Wheeler and a timeout at 18.3, Rodgers hit Adam Weaver with a 22-yard slant pass for six and a 10-7 halftime lead.

Powell also had first possession after intermission to put together back-to-back scores. The Panthers went 63 yards in five plays. Rodgers broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and ran in from 20 yards out to extend the lead to 17-7 at 9:50 in the third.

West was forced to punt and Powell threatened to score again. In fact, it looked like Stooksbury had hauled in a 17-yard TD pass, but the official ruled it incomplete for bobbling the ball or catching it beyond the backline of the end zone. On fourth-and-3 at the 13, Wheeler was tripped up by All-State linebacker Ryan Scott for no gain.

The Rebels turned up the tempo and it paid off. Antwain Burdine picked up a big first down with a 10-yard catch on third-and-6 to move the ball to the West 28. The Rebels continued their charge, but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Schmid. It cut their deficit to seven (17-10) with 1:07 left in the third quarter.

West got a huge break when Stooksbury shanked a punt that went six yards to the Powell 30.

Three plays later, Devin Jamison broke multiple tackles on a 25-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 17-all with 10:54 remaining.

Powell had the ball inside West territory when punter Bollig leaped to pull down a high snap and managed to get off a 13-yard punt. But a one-handed interception by Burdine three plays later got the ball back for the Rebels.

Scott made another great play in the closing minute of regulation when he cut down Rodgers and forced a punt.  It was a one-on-one matchup between the two and only green turf behind Scott if Deuce had gotten past him.

Only 25 seconds remained in regulation play. An 18-yard run by Bowers and a 15-yard catch by Burdine got the ball to the Powell 37. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Dance rolled right and threw to Cummings in the end zone. The pass fell incomplete.

The game that was called a classic by some and “old school football” by Coach Brown would be settled in overtime.