NEW ALBANY - Charlie Lott led his New Albany Bulldogs to the halftime lead only to see Pontotoc come back and tie the game in regulation. The Warriors also appeared to be living the charmed life as they scored on a second and 14 play in overtime to take the lead, but Lott scored on a rollout and running back CJ Hill plunged in with the two-point conversion as the Bulldogs won 43-42.
"It was originally a pass play, just a bootleg to the left, I didn't want to force one in there and turn the ball over and I figured that I might as well run it and try to get in there," Lott said. "I'm glad it worked out because I'm not a very big guy or fast, but it worked out for the best, so I was happy about it."
Lott took the snap and scored from six yards out to pull New Albany to within a point at 42-41. New Albany lined up for two and Pontotoc called timeout to discuss defensive strategy.
New Albany never wavered on their decision to go for two and the win as they lined up and Lott handed the ball off to Hill who powered his way across the goal line for the conversion and send to the Bulldogs into a frenzied victory celebration.
"Our kids continued to play, they never stopped and we preached to them the entire time 'you've got to play four quarters, you cannot come out' and we had guys cramping and we had some issues," New Albany coach Cody Stubblefield said. "But when it was at the end of the game, you looked them in the eye, none of them wanted to kick an extra point.
"So when they are looking at you like that, you put it in their hands and our guys got it done. They wanted it, give credit to the line for blocking, give credit to CJ Hill for the extra effort back there, kept his feet moving. Hopefully this is what we needed to get over that hump."
Pontotoc had the first possession of the overtime and things started out on a dismal note as a fumble cost the Warriors four yards back to the 14. The next play had offsetting penalties on the offense and defense, so the teams lined back up for a second and 14 for Pontotoc.
Warrior quarterback Brice Deaton hit Tres Vaughn with the TD strike and Jolan Mills added the extra point for the 42-35 lead.
New Albany opted to run the ball on their opening play of overtime as Hill gained four down to the six to set up Lott's touchdown.
New Albany took the lead after one quarter as Isaiah Cohran scored on a 17-yard run with 4:31 left in the period. Caleb McDonald made it 7-0 with the kick.
The scoring in the second quarter came in bunches as the team traded scores and marched up and down the field.
Pontotoc tied it on Jordan Ball's 14-yard run and took the lead on Jemarkus Whitfield's 31-yard touchdown at 14-7.
Hill broke free for a 49-yard run and then ran it in from the two. McDonald's kick tied the game at 14-all with 9:03 left in the half.
CJ McKinney then got loose and torched the Warrior defense with a 71 TD run and McDonald made it 21-14 with 6:34 to go in the half.
Pontotoc's Tres Vaughn took the ensuing kickoff, hit a crease and raced 85 yards for the tying touchdown at 21-21.
Cohran caught a Lott pass for the 55-yard touchdown to give the lead right back to the Bulldogs with 5:37 still remaining in the first half.
New Albany scored on the whackiest play of the night with their next possession as offensive lineman Parker Formsma scooped up the loose ball on the Pontotoc seven and rambled in the big boy touchdown. Hill ran it in for the two point conversion and the teams went to the half with New Albany leading 35-21.
Whitfield scored on two six-yard runs in the second half, one coming at the 4:14 mark in the third quarter and the last one coming with 9:14 left in the fourth. Mills added the PAT after both scores and the game was tied 35-35 after regulation.
"Geez, that was an exhausting game," Stubblefield said afterwards. "It felt really good going into halftime, thought we could do some things and move the football. That stuff was still there, we just weren't executing, but we never stopped and our kids continued to play."
New Albany improves to 2-1 and will travel to Booneville next Friday to face the 3-0 Blue Devils who defeated Ripley 27-26.