“I love you guys. Take tomorrow off.”
Those were the words Central High School football coach Doug Dotson had for his players after the Wildcats came from behind to win their second overtime game in two weeks, 28-25 over Scotlandville at Doug Williams field at the Louisiana Leadership Institute.
The loss spoiled a four-touchdown night for Scotlandville quarterback Kimani Smith.
In a wild finish, Scotlandville blocked a field-goal attempt on the last play of the game and apparently had the win when Dondre Dobbins picked up the ball and ran to the end zone.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, a penalty behind the run nullified the score and sent the game into overtime. Central (5-4, 3-1 in District 4-5A) was on offense first, and ended with a 27-yard Jonathan Thibodeaux field goal.
Scotlandville (7-2, 2-2) faced a fourth down on its possession and quarterback Kimani Smith threw incomplete, but a pass interference penalty gave the Hornets four new downs.
They moved to the 2 before a loss on third down moved them back to the 4, and Smith’s fourth-down pass was again incomplete and the Wildcats had the win.
“That was what high school football is about,” Dotson said. “A clean, hard-fought game with big plays all over the place. I’ve got to give credit to coach Hilton. For it to come down to that, (wild overtime) the feelings are just indescribable.”
Hilton and his players were as stunned as the Central team was jubilant.
“We had our chances,” Hilton said. “We thought we had it won when we blocked the field goal, but they called a block in the back.
“Central took some things away from us in the second half, and then we just didn’t make the plays in the end.”
Central opened the game by parlaying two short field opportunities in the first quarter to take a 10-0 lead.
On their first possession, the Wildcats moved from their own 43 to the Scotlandville 14, and opened the scoring on a 34-yard field goal by Thibodeaux. Then, after forcing a punt, running back Zach Evans broke off tackle on fourth-and-2 and sprinted 32 yards for a touchdown. Thibodeaux’s kick put the Wildcats up 10-0.
A poised Scotlandville offensive unit answered with an 80-yard drive to score on a 7-yard pass from Smith to Michael Robertson to pull within 10-7.
A costly Central turnover gave the Hornets even more momentum when they recovered a fumble on the Central 12-yard line.
After a 5-yard run by Dontraill Hilliard, Smith was tackled for a 3-yard loss, then hooked up with Cevon Cage to put Scotlandville up 13-10.
Smith added a third TD pass with 3:31 left and the stout Hornets defense, behind two tackles in the backfield by strong safety Dobbins, blunted the final CHS drive of the half with Scotlandville leading 19-10.
A personal foul on Scotlandville kept Central’s first scoring drive alive. Central hurt itself with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and another for pass interference. A bad snap cost Central 26 yards, but it more than made up for that loss when Hunter Cazes got behind two Scotlandville defenders for an 83-yard touchdown catch and run.
“That play was a wing and prayer,” Dotson said. “Hunter Cazes hasn’t caught many balls, but he’s caught some big ones.”
Smith passed for 242 yards on 21-for-40 passing with two interceptions. The Hornets got 98 yards rushing from Hilliard, who also had 38 yards receiving on four catches.
Aside from Cazes’ long touchdown reception the Wildcats had only 55 yards passing. Their offense was sparked by the running of Evans (18 carries for 141 yards) and Courville (five rushes for 48 yards but two sacks for 19.