SPRINGVILLE • Jordan Ball’s last name is fitting – when he’s on the field, he just has a knack for finding the ball in big moments.
When his team’s back was against the wall, Ball provided the spark with a 62-yard pick-six early in the fourth quarter to help Pontotoc claw back for a 24-21 victory over Division 2-4A rival South Pontotoc on Thursday night.
“Without him, I don’t know where we’d be. He means a lot to this football team,” said Pontotoc head coach Jeff Carter. “When you can go both ways as many snaps as he does, week-in and week-out, and still hold up, that’s pretty impressive.”
Pontotoc (4-3, 2-0) was playing its first full game without quarterback Conner Armstrong, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Offensively, it was a struggle at times for the Warriors, who found themselves down 14-10 entering the fourth quarter.
Ball’s interception return gave Pontotoc the 17-10 lead, and all the momentum continued in the favor as the ensuing kickoff was fumbled and recovered by Montinique Wilson, setting up a 3-yard score from Nic Townsend for a 14-point swing in just one minute and 59 seconds.
“Once we got that ball back on that kickoff, it was over with,” Ball said.
The Cougars didn’t quit there, as Cody Stutsy punched in his second touchdown of the second half with a 1-yard plunge with 2:11 to go, and then Chase Long recovered the onside kick to give them a chase to drive and win the game.
Pontotoc’s defense made a final stand to secure the win.
The Warriors led 10-7 at the half with a 29-yard field goal from Eddie Nolasco in the first quarter and a 21-yard score from Townsend in the second. South Pontotoc’s Clayton Heatherly found Trace Ash in the end zone for a 34-yard strike with 31 seconds left in the first half.
Turning Point: Ball’s interception, followed by Wilson’s fumble recovery, sparked the Warriors’ comeback as they led 24-10 with 6:30 left in the game.
Point Man: Ball rushed for 117 of Pontotoc’s 136 yards on the ground.
Talking Point: “The kids fought hard all the way to the end of the game. We had a chance to win it. Just couldn’t put it together.” – South Pontotoc head coach Rod Cook.
• South Pontotoc had 322 total yards to Pontotoc’s 159.
• Pontotoc has now won seven games in a row in this rivalry.
• Next week, Pontotoc hosts Houston, while South Pontotoc visits Ripley.