Tharptown keeps playoff hopes alive with win over Phillips

Kadin Pounders

For the FCT

The Tharptown Wildcats (4-4) defeated the Phillips Bears (4-4) by the score of 41-32 Friday night.

There were momentum swings for both teams, but Tharptown made plays at the end to come away with the victory.

The game started off with a bang. Tharptown started the game with the ball. On the first play from scrimmage Tharptown quarterback Kelby Hallmark took the snap and ran 60 yards untouched for a touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, Phillips’ Jonthan Crumpton returned it 90 yards for a Bears touchdown. After only 46 seconds, both teams were tied 6-6.

The first quarter ended with Phillips leading 12-6 after Bears quarterback Austin Campbell hit Christopher Grace on a 16-yard touchdown pass.

Phillips threatened to score again early in the second quarter but Tharptown’s John Donner ended the threat with an interception inside the 10-yard line.

Tharptown took advantage of the turnover. On Tharptown’s first play of the following drive, Allen Bohannon rushed 74 yards down to Phillips’ 15 yard line. A few plays later Hallmark took the ball in from 3 yards out to give the Wildcats the 13-12 lead.

After a couple of sacks forced Phillips to punt, the Wildcats regained possession and punched it in for the score again. This time, Hallmark connected with Trent Miller on a 56-yard touchdown pass. Miller would finish with 66 yards receiving, a touchdown, and an interception on defense before leaving in the second half with an injury.

Tharptown took their 20-12 lead into halftime but it would not last long.

On the first play of the second half, Phillips’ Josef Bates took the handoff and ran 68 yards for the equalizing touchdown. On the Bears next possession Bates scored again, this time on a 12-yard touchdown run. With 8:51 left in the third quarter, Phillips led 26-20.

Phillips would take their 26-20 lead into the final quarter of play.

In the fourth quarter, Tharptown’s defense would prove to be stubborn. The Wildcats forced a fumble at the start of the fourth quarter and capitalized. From their 38-yard line Tharptown started a 14-play, 4:45 drive that was highlighted by a clutch fourth down catch by Mike Rice and capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by John Donner. Tharptown took the 27-26 lead with 7:06 left to play.

The game continued on, but with 2:39 left in the game, Phillips’ offense made a game-changing error. On their own 16-yard line, the Bears’ center snapped the ball over the head of the unsuspecting quarterback. Tharptown’s Hallmark dove on the ball in the endzone for a Wildcats touchdown giving them a 35-26 lead.

Kelby Hallmark finished with 149 yards rushing, 73 yards passing, and 3 touchdowns on offense as well as an interception and touchdown on defense.

“I try my best to lead [my team],” Hallmark said. “This was a big game to keep us alive for the playoffs.”

After another turnover-on-downs by Phillips, the Wildcats delivered the dagger. Opening up the playbook, the Wildcats scored again on a reverse to Bohannon who took it 43 yards for the score. Bohannon finished with 9 carries for 140 yards.

With 2:03 left the Wildcats led the Bears 41-26. Phillips scored again with 0:08 left on a long touchdown pass, but it did not matter. The Wildcats were victorious.

After the game Tharptown Head Coach Bill Smith talked about his team’s performance.

“I was extremely proud of [the players],” Smith said. “They didn’t hang their heads and they fought back to win. This is big for us.”

Tharptown travels to Hackleburg Friday night.

 

 

 

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