By Jay Tidwell/Special to the Journal
NEW ALBANY – Ethan Orr’s big right hand decided the outcome.
Orr, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound junior defensive lineman for Itawamba AHS, broke through the line and batted away the potential tying extra-point Friday to seal a 44-43 win in overtime for the Indians over New Albany.
It was a thrilling finish for Itawamba, who had trailed by as much as 37-14 late in the third period. The Daily Journal’s No. 3 ranked team in Class 4A/3A was also without star running back Ashton Shumpert for the second week in a row.
“I had the adrenalin going and I really wanted to block that kick,” Orr said. “I wanted to win so bad I didn’t know what else to do.”
An interception by David Bowens at New Albany’s 18 late in the third helped swing the momentum the Indians’ way. Charles Moore scored three plays later to trim it to 37-21.
After holding New Albany (1-1) on its next possession, Itawamba (2-0) put together an 82-yard drive capped by a 6-yard run by Peyton Green and a two-point pass from Tyler Dossett to Moore with 6:57 remaining.
“I think in the fourth quarter our conditioning played a factor,” said Itawamba AHS coach Toby Collums. “Our kids and our fans kept believing, and they kept playing the next play.”
After a three-and-out for New Albany, the Indians responded with another drive from their 38 that ended with a 1-yard bolt by Moore. Dossett tied it at 37 with 1:34 on a conversion pass to Braxton West.
Moore scored on the first play of overtime and Dossett completed the PAT. Spencer Day scored on a 1-yard keeper for the Bulldogs, ranked No. 2 in the Daily Journal’s Class 4A/3A rankings, but Orr blocked the kick attempt by Eathen Rainey to complete the rally.
Dossett, a senior, finished with 17 of 19 passing for 210 yards for Itawamba (2-0).
“We should have just ran the ball, and ran the clock out at the end to get out of here with the win,” said New Albany coach Ron Price. “We will come back from this though.”
O.J. Hardin scored two TDs and Rainey connected on a 26-yard field goal in the second quarter to give New Albany a 23-14 lead at the break.