ECRU – Reece Kentner was unaffected by his failures on Thursday night.
The junior quarterback overcame a rough first half to rally North Pontotoc past previously unbeaten Houston, 38-37, in a Division 2-4A showdown.
Kentner accounted for 340 yards of total offense and six touchdowns. His biggest play came on a fourth-and-15, when he found Winn Navarette for a 30-yard touchdown pass with 1:18 left in the game to give the Vikings the winning points.
“I thought he had a great second half. He was definitely resilient,” North Pontotoc coach Andy Crotwell said.
Kentner lost a fumble and threw an interception in the first half, which helped Houston (6-1, 1-1) build a 30-12 halftime lead.
But he took control in the third quarter, capping a 10-play scoring drive with a 2-yard run. Next possession, the Vikings (4-3, 1-1) went 40 yards, with Kentner punching it in from 3 yards to make it 30-25.
The teams then traded scores, and North Pontotoc got the ball back with 4:37 left and Houston leading 37-32. A sack and two poor throws by Kentner set up the fourth-and-15, when he rolled left and found Navarette open in the end zone.
“It was my last chance, and I hadn’t given it my all the two plays before that,” Kentner said. “I said, my last chance, I’m going to give it my all and see what happens.”
Houston, which had piled up 258 yards in the first half, was held to 23 yards in the second.
“We got comfortable with what they did, and coach (Matt) Lindsey did a great job, slowly choked off one thing after another that they hang their hat on,” Crotwell said.
Jalen Washington led Houston with 123 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.
Turning Point: North Pontotoc’s back-to-back scoring drives to open the second half made it a new ballgame.
Point Man: Kentner completed 19 of 37 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 100 yards and four TDs on 20 carries.
Talking Point: “They just hit us in the mouth. They were just the more physical, tougher team, and we’ve got to do a better job of getting the guys ready.” – Houston coach Baylor Dampeer
• Navarette finished with five catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
• Houston’s Will Vance had a 79-yard kickoff return for TD in the second quarter.
• Next week, Houston visits Pontotoc, while North Pontotoc hosts New Albany.