MOUNTAINBURG -- With both teams combining for exactly 1,000 yards of total offense and more than 100 points Friday night, it was a defensive play that sealed the game.
Mountainburg senior Connor Rogers intercepted an England pass with two minutes left to help the Dragons secure a wild 55-52 win against England in Class 2A first-round playoff action.
Mountainburg 55, England 52
Mount – Quick 9 run (kick failed) 6:34
Eng – Filoteo 5 run (Clarkson run) 3:40
Mount – Roxin 29 run (Roxin run) 2:30
Mount – Taylor 65 run (run failed) 0:22
Eng – Filoteo 13 pass from Brazeal (Filoteo pass from Clarkson) 9:58
Mount – Roxin 1 run (run failed) 6:49
Eng – Clarkson 57 run (Filoteo run) 6:31
Mount – Quick 66 run (run failed) 5:37
Eng – Clarkson 55 run (run failed) 5:01
Eng – Clarkson 83 run (Filoteo run) 11:43
Mount – Taylor 14 run (Quick run) 5:16
Eng – Clarkson 8 run (run failed) 4:01
Mount – Taylor 35 run (Rogers pass from Roxin) 1:23
Mount – Jones 36 pass from Roxin (Seratt kick) 0:00
Eng – Clarkson 56 pass from Brazeal (Filoteo run) 11:43
"I've never been a part of anything quite like that, with that many points from both teams," said Mountainburg coach Tom Harrell, now in his 31st year coaching Dragons. "I really thought we could stop them, and we obviously could not.
"We did get a few stops here and there, but it was just back-and-forth the whole night."
England's Darrius Clarkson racked up 356 total yards and five touchdowns himself, gaining 296 on the ground and 70 on a pair of receptions.
But that still wasn't enough to counter the Dragons' high-powered misdirection hybrid-wing offense. Mountainburg out-gained England 534-466 in total yards. The Dragons got 268 yards rushing from speed back Austin Taylor and another 122 from senior quarterback Robert Roxin, finishing with 455 total rushing yards on 55 carries.
"It was just a great game, great for the team, and we needed that," Roxin said. "It was crazy -- the most intense game I've ever been in."
Roxin, who converted from tailback before this season, scored twice on the ground, and completed 4 of 9 passes for 79 yards, including a crucial 36-yard scoring strike to Dillon Jones on the final play of the third quarter, which proved to provide the winning margin.
Mountainburg (9-1) reached the end zone on each of its first five drives, while England (5-6) scored on four of its first five possessions.
The Dragons opened the game with a methodical 11-play drive -- all on the ground -- with Jesse Quick putting the first points on the board midway through the opening quarter.
Justus Filoteo capped off the Lions' opening drive with a 5-yard run. And it was back and forth like that over the next thre quarters.
Roxin then broke loose for a 29-yard scoring jaunt, and Taylor soon followed with a 65-yard run to put Mountainburg ahead 20-8 at the end of the first quarter. But that lead was nowhere near safe.
Clarkson scored on runs of 57 and 55 yards in the second quarter to pull the Lions within 32-30 at halftime.
On the opening offensive play of the second half, Clarkson broke loose once again, this time for 83 yards, and Filoteo's two-point conversion run gave England a 38-32 advantage.
Mountainburg capitalized on England's errant punt snap, getting the ball back at the Lions' 24, then scoring three plays later on a 14-yard run around the left end by Taylor.
"Offensively, we've been pretty good all year, but tonight they were able to close up the middle on us," Harrell said. "But Taylor just did a great job of keeping them stretched out, and allowing us to keep moving the ball."
Mountainburg extended the lead to 55-44 on the pass to Jones, but England scored in one play again on the ensuing drive, as Mason Brazeal connected with Clarkson on a 56-yard strike just 17 second into the final quarter to make it 55-52.
England took over at midfield with 2 minutes, 39 seconds left, which on this night was more than enough time. On the third play, Rogers jumped in front of the targeted England receiver to pick off the pass, allowing the Dragons to melt the remaining time away.
Mountainburg will travel to Conway Christian next Friday night for a second-round clash.
HARRISON 56, HOT SPRINGS LAKESIDE 36
HOT SPRINGS -- Harrison scored the game's final 20 points to defeat Hot Springs Lakeside.
With the score tied at 36-36, the Goblins got two rushing touchdowns from Noah Ditmanson and a third from Mason Martin in the fourth quarter to pull away for the victory.
After scoring the game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the third quarter, the Rams were held without a point in the fourth, punting twice and throwing an interception on their three possessions.
Harrison (8-3) advanced to play Pulaski Academy in the second round while Lakeside finished 6-5 for the second year in a row.
Sports on 11/12/2017
Print Headline: Dragons hang on in wild finish