PONTOTOC • Pontotoc overcame a rough start to advance in the opening round of the 4A playoffs over rival North Pontotoc on Friday.
After falling behind by two touchdowns in the first quarter, the Warriors finished the game with 20 unanswered points to win 20-14 over the Vikings.
North Pontotoc (7-5) jumped on top midway through the opening quarter when running back Tyler Hill took a handoff and passed to Tyler Ford for 41-yard score. On the first play of the ensuing possession, North defensive back Jacoree Westmoreland scooped up a Warrior fumble and raced 35 yards to the end zone, putting the Vikings on top 14-0.
The Warriors (6-5) trimmed the deficit in half late in the second quarter when Brice Deaton found D.J. Bean in the back of the end zone for a 42-yard TD on a 3rd-and-36. After a North punt on the opening drive of the second half, Caleb Hobson hauled a short pass and weaved through defenders for a 54-yard touchdown to tie things up 14-14.
Senior placekicker Jolan Mills gave the Warriors their first lead, 17-14, by converting a 36-yard field goal with 11:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. A second 36-yarder with 4:58 to go provided the final margin.
“We put ourselves in that (hole),” said Pontotoc coach Jeff Carter. “That touchdown right before the half really gave us a little spark, and we came out in the second half and played better.”
Turning Point: The game was still in the balance in the final minutes. Reece Kentner hit Tyler Hill for a 41-yard gain on 4th down to move the Vikings to the Pontotoc 32. However, the Warriors’ Peeko Townsend intercepted a pass to kill the drive with 2:56 remaining, and Pontotoc picked up a pair of first downs and ran out the clock.
Point Man: After coming into the game at quarterback, Deaton completed 9 for 15 passes for 202 yards and 2 TDs.
Talking Point: “Our kids played their tails off. Give credit to Pontotoc; they made plays when they needed to.” – North Pontotoc coach Andy Crotwell
• Pontotoc kept an opponent’s offense scoreless over the final three quarters for a second- consecutive week.
• Monte Townsend also recorded an interception for Pontotoc, while Kaden Wilson picked off a pass for North Pontotoc.