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Phil Campbell wins overtime thriller

Phil Campbell won an overtime thriller, beating East Lawrence 36-35 to secure home field advantage in the Class 3A playoffs.

The game had it all: play-off implications, two touchdowns in the first 32 seconds, fourth-down fails and heroics, monsoon weather conditions, game delays because of car headlights in the endzone, a safety and gutsy calls to win a game.

With the game tied at the end of regulation, East Lawrence took the ball first and scored quickly. After making the extra point, the Eagles put the pressure on the Bobcats to score and make a tough decision: go for the tie or the win?

The Bobcats pounded the ball down to the one-yard line, facing fourth-and-goal. Barnwell went to a player rarely used as a running back to win the game: John Randle Herring barreled across the goal line, making the score 35-34 East Lawrence with the game on the line.

“We have been trying to establish a red-zone mindset,” said Phil Campbell Coach Kevin Barnwell. “We want to be physical and score when we are in a goal-line situation. We have been practicing that every day for the past couple of weeks, and it paid off in a big way.”

Barnwell then had to make a quick decision: send the kicker out to try and tie the game or keep the offensive unit on the field and go for the win. Barnwell decided to roll the dice and go for the win.

Again, he turned to Herring. This time, the running back ran a sweep to the right and ran into the endzone untouched for the win.

“There was no doubt we were going for two and going for the win,” Barnwell continued. “We felt like we could get the ball in the endzone. We told the guys to get a push, and we were coming in behind them.”

The very beginning of the game was about as wild and exciting as the end of the game. Phil Campbell got the ball, and Bryant Hyde took the opening play 60 yards for touchdown, giving the Bobcats a fast 6-0 lead.

East Lawrence didn’t let Phil Campbell celebrate long, returning the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to take a 7-6 lead,32 seconds into the game.

East Lawrence converted two Bobcat turnovers into two more touchdowns, extending that lead to 21-6 with 6:31 to go in the second quarter.

The Eagles seemed firmly in control of the game, but Phil Campbell shifted momentum, closing out the first half with two touchdowns of their own.

Hyde ran the ball in from 15 yards out, and Kyle Pace added the two-point conversion run to cut the score to 21-14 with 3:58 to go.

After an East Lawrence turnover, Pace was able to run the ball into the endzone from eight yards out to cut the Eagles’ lead to 21-20 at the half.

East Lawrence controlled the ball and the clock for much of the third quarter, scoring with 35 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a 28-20 lead.

With 6:55 to go in the game, Herring tackled an Eagle running back in the endzone for a safety, cutting East Lawrence’s lead to 28-22.

With the safety, East Lawrence had to kick off to the Bobcats. A minute and a half later, Herring scored his touchdown, tying the game 28-28.

Phil Campbell went for two but failed, leaving the game tied with about five minutes to go.

East Lawrence drove the field and looked to be nearing field goal range before the Bobcats sacked the Eagle quarterback well out of field goal range and then stopped them on fourth down.

Hyde ended the game with 19 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

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