By Jay Tidwell
Special to the News Exchange
Larenz Jones provided the spark for a thrilling comeback by New Albany.
After Cedric Buford batted down a field goal attempt by North Pontotoc’s John Gonzales early in the fourth quarter, Jones grabbed the loose ball and sprinted 70 yards for the end zone.
It was the first of a pair of long-distance plays in the final period of regulation that helped the Bulldogs overcome a two-touchdown deficit and upend North Pontotoc 24-21 in overtime.
Bryce Collins connected with Jarel Lipsey for a 94-yard score with 2 minutes, 19 seconds remaining to tie it at 21-all. Eathen Rainey booted a 36-yarder to finish it in the extra period.
“The thing that makes me so proud is when we were down 21-7 and North Pontotoc was lining up to kick a field goal, somebody did not quit and made a play,” said New Albany coach Ron Price. “Somebody blocked a field goal. Larenz Jones got the momentum back on our side.”
North Pontotoc (3-3) held the momentum early. After Miciah Heard returned the opening kickoff 76 yards, Trey Jolly completed a 20-yard scoring toss to Marcus Green.
Green broke loose for a 73-yard run in the final minute of the half to put the Vikings ahead 14-7.
Jolly finished off a 70-yard drive midway through the third with a 20-yard scoring pass to Jeremy Wilkes.
North Pontotoc pressed to the 3-yard line of New Albany (3-3) to open the fourth, but the drive stalled. Buford and Jones teamed up on the field goal attempt to swing it back in New Albany’s favor.
“That boosted our momentum up and got everybody on their feet,” said Jones, a senior.
Chris Brown picked off a pass by Jolly to end North’s possession in OT. Rainey followed with the kick that capped a thrilling homecoming night.
“We dropped balls and cost ourselves offensively and in special teams,” said North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton. “We made mental errors, and you can’t do that against a good football team.”