By Jay Tidwell/Special to the Journal
FULTON – North Pontotoc made plenty of mistakes. Fortunately, C.J. Coleman was just in the right place at the right time.
The Vikings struggled through eight turnovers, but found a way to climb back, rallying for a 19-16 win on Friday against Mantachie.
“We just didn’t look like the Vikings early on, but we found a way to win it, and I’m proud of them,” North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton said.
The match was a home game for Mantachie but was being played at ICC’s stadium while renovations are completed at the Mustangs’ field.
Mantachie (0-1) built a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter. Micah Sparks returned a punt 39 yards to open scoring in the first. Then Dustin Carrell booted a pair of field goals to keep up the momentum. He connected on 28- and 30-yarders, his second coming with 10:31 showing in the period.
North Pontotoc (1-0) rallied with two TD drives before halftime. Trey Jolly connected twice with Ben Shannon for scoring strikes of 13 and 25 yards and Murphy Daniel added a conversion kick to tie it at 13-all with 52 seconds remaining in the first half.
“We had to get those scores bad,” said Shannon, a 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior. “We were down and we knew we had to keep pushing.”
Jolly finished with 8 of 19 passing for 115 yards with two TDs and three INTs.
Carrell added a 28-yard field goal in the third.
As heavy rain set in with the opening of the fourth quarter, North Pontotoc’s Marcus Green returned an interception 52 yards with 10:56 remaining.
With time dwindling, Carrell led the Mustangs on a final drive that began at North’s 28 after a bobbled snap on a punt. With 19 seconds left, North’s Petyon Finch tipped Carrell’s pass and Coleman hauled in the loose ball at the Vikings’ 7 to seal it.
Earlier in the drive Coleman, a sophomore, had been called for pass interference, but the diving interception put all that behind him.
“The ball bounced all over the place, but I’m proud of what we could do,” Mantachie coach Lynn Moore said.