What appeared to be shaping up as a blowout win for Perry over Houston County instead turned into a shootout. The shootout finally came down to a decision by first-year Head Coach Jeremy Edwards on whether to go for the extra point or the two-point conversion. He opted for the latter. The Bears, with a little trickery, pulled it off and won 57-56.
Early in the second quarter they trailed 28-3. Two touchdowns made it 20-17 at the half and the second was just sheer firepower from both sides. Only a turnover by each and Perry punting kept either from scoring each time they touched the ball in the third and fourth.
A hold on the first snap from scrimmage set the stage for the start of the game and Houston County’s first possession. It put the Bears behind the sticks and eventually led to a punt.
A fair catch interference call on the punt following gave the Panthers good position on the Bears’ 33. A fumble on the first snap planted a seed of doubt, but Demetrious Carter’s run to the 6 erased any thoughts of worry. Instead, Carter helped convert a fourth-and-four three plays in, and two plays after that, Caleb Wilson carried it in from the 1. Caden Camp’s point after – converting on three more attempts in the half – made it 7-0 with 7:15 left in the quarter.
It appeared Ryan Taleb would answer that with a long touchdown run, but it was called back for a block in the back. Still, the Bears moved the ball, they just stalled on a fouth-and-16 after getting it to the 15 (a sack prior had put it on the 23).
The Panthers made it 14-0 in just two plays following that. The first was on a five-yard run. The second was a 79-yard pass from Armar Gordon Jr. to Caleb Wilson. It was finished with 4:35 showing.
Houston County then moved it from Perry’s 38 to the 4 before a couple of runs yielded nothing and a false start pushed it back five more. The quarter ended and second began with Thomas Bryant coming in and kicking a 27-yard field goal.
The Panthers again scored on two plays to make it 21-3 and then a pick-six made it 28-3. The first score came on a 62-yard pass from Gordon to Dakari Anderson. The second was on an interception – bounced off a Bears receiver’s helmet and into the arms of Carter.
Perry drove it some after that, but eventually turned it over on downs on the Houston County 39.
The Bears then scored twice to usher in the half. Their first was on a 10-yard run by Taleb. It was the culmination of an eight-play drive. The second touchdown was on a 27-yard pass from Antwann Hill Jr. to Kale Woodburn. It took only two plays to score, put the game clock inside a minute and paved the way for the half – 28-17, Perry.
A fumble on Perry’s first possession of the third gave it to the Bears on the Panthers’ 23. A run netted 15, a pass put it on the 7. Taleb scored from there. The point after hit the post making it 28-23.
The Panthers answered with a nine-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a pass from Gordon to Traveon Wright. Camp made it 35-23.
A 36-yard run by Taleb – four plays in – put another Houston County score on the board, and with Bryant’s point after, made it 35-29.
Donovan Funsch, with a 17-yard pass from Gordon, and with Camp’s point after, made it 42-29. That was the culmination of a five-play, 80-yard drive. It finished off with just over three minutes left in the quarter.
Back came the Bears. Four plays into another drive that started at the 20, Hill hit Ricky Johnson with a 44-yard touchdown pass. That made it 43-26 with 2:06 left in the quarter.
A fumble – recovered by Perry – set up a third-and-20 and the rarest of all sights: A punt.
Houston County returned it to the Panthers’ 37. Seven plays later, Johnson caught a pass from Hill from the 12. The point after tied it at 42. That ended with the fourth now about two minutes old.
Back came Perry. They took the kickoff on the 31 and in two plays scored on a Gordon to Dakari Anderson 40-yard pass. Advantage back to the Panthers, 49-42.
Here we go again. The Bears started on their own 20 again, the clock at 4:38. Seven plays later, Taleb scored from the one: 49-49.
Make it 56-49 as Perry went from its own 20 to paydirt again, this time in three plays and a 73-yard touchdown pass from Gordon to Anderson.
A turnover broke the streak. Houston County had gone from their own 42. They had converted one fourth down – fourth-and-seven from the Perry 31 – and were going for their second – this one a fourth-and-16 – when it happened.
Perry took over with 2:53 remaining in the game.
The Bears needed a defensive stand – a foreign term it would appear on this night – and got it. Two runs by the Panthers netted nothing. A third went back three yards. The Panthers punted.
Houston County received it on its own 28. It picked up a first down on the 40 and then on Perry’s 46 – with 1:04 remaining by then. A sack put it back four yards. An incomplete pass made for a third-and-long. Hill found Spivey for 10 and the first down. That was with 25 seconds to go. Another pass got it to the 18 where Hill found Johnson in the back corner of the endzone. His over-the-shoulder catch made it 56-55.
The Bears then used a toss to Taleb to Johnson for conversion and the win. Perry did get a couple of touches with six seconds left, but just couldn’t answer back.