The Bobcats talk strategy versus a challenging East Lawrence team.

Phil Campbell Bobcats lose in final minute

The past two weeks have been frustrating for first-year coach Kevin Barnwell and his young Bobcat squad.

Last week, after claiming the one-point lead with a minute and half to go, the Bobcats watched as Lauderdale County returned a kickoff to the two-yard line and scored the winning touchdown four plays later with six seconds left on the clock.

This week, it was basically the same story, just different characters in the play.

Phil Campbell took a 26-25 lead with 4:10 to go in the second half over the East Lawrence Eagles. Both teams played a defensive stalemate for much of the rest of the game – until the Eagles scored the winning touchdown with 45 seconds left to play in the game.

“It’s tough, but we have good character kids, and they will stay focused on the job at hand,” said Phil Campbell head coach Kevin Barnwell. “What is hurting us is what usually hurts football teams, and that is turnovers and penalties – and that falls back on me. We have to get that corrected. We were in the red zone four times and didn’t come away with any points. It’s hard to win games that way.”

Sophomore Trey Leindecker has quickly become the focal point of a Phil Campbell offense loaded with sophomore playmakers, which bodes well for the future of this Bobcat squad. That is the one bright spot Barnwell can take from his team struggles in his first year as head coach.

Leindecker rushed the ball for 152 yards on 22 carries and rushed for two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Luke Barnwell completed nine of 16 passes for 98 yards as well. Sophomore Ridge Raper also scored two touchdowns.

“We have a lot of good young players,” said Barnwell. “We just have to make the kids understand they need to stay with it and keep building the program. You do that with off-season workouts. We have to see the whole picture. If we do that, we will get there.”

Phil Campbell struggled to contain East Lawrence’s dual-threat quarterback, Clay Pilgrim, who rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown and passed for another 89 yards.

The second half defensive struggle was preceded by a wild ride in the first quarter, with three touchdowns in the first two and a half minutes of the game and both teams scoring a combined 27 points.

Phil Campbell got on the board first early in the game on a Leindecker eight-yard touchdown run.

East Lawrence answered immediately with a 62-yard touchdown run on the Eagles’ first offensive play to make the score 7-6.

The Bobcats scored 20 seconds later on another long run by Leindecker to paydirt – this one for 42 yards – to give Phil Campbell a 12-7 lead with 9:40 to go in the opening period of play.

The scoring barrage slowed down a bit then, with East Lawrence reclaiming the lead 15-12 with 37 seconds to go in the first quarter on a 57-yard touchdown run.

East Lawrence added to its lead with 8:59 to go in the second quarter on a 29-yard field goal to make the score 18-12.

Phil Campbell took the lead with 7:34 to go in the quarter on a six-yard run by Raper. Raper added the point after to make the score 19-18.

The Eagles wasted no time taking back the lead on a 77-yard touchdown run with 6:34 with 6:34 to go in the second half.

Phil Campbell took the lead with 4:10 to go in the half on Raper’s second touchdown run of the game, this one from six yards out. His point after gave the Bobcats a 26-25 lead.

The score would remain 26-25 for the rest of the game until East Lawrence’s final drive of the game, culminating with a three-yard touchdown run with 45 seconds to go in the game to give the Eagles a 32-26 win.

East Lawrence had 366 yards in total offense to the Bobcats’ 332 yards.

Phil Campbell (2-6; 1-4) will host Colbert Heights (5-4; 4-1) Friday night in the Bobcats’ final home game of the season.