By Jonathan Wise
DE KALB – A milestone victory – that’s how North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton described his team’s thrilling 41-40 overtime win over Kemper County Friday night, advancing the Vikings to the third round 3A playoffs.
“I am just so proud of these kids,” Sutton, who is in his fifth year coaching his alma mater. “They showed a lot of resiliency over and over again tonight, bouncing back from mistakes, penalties, bumps and bruises, you name it. They never quit and found a way to finish.
“This a monumental win for this program, to get 10 wins in a season. I want these kids and our fans to be proud to be North Pontotoc Vikings.”
The Wildcats (9-4) got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 12-0 first quarter lead. D.J. Clayton hauled in a 32-yard pass from standout quarterback Kelvin Bourrage with 6:37 to go in the opening period, followed by another Bourrage scoring strike, this time an 18-yarder to Otis Cross.
North Pontotoc (10-3) bounced back and dominated the second quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points. Murphy Daniel found the end zone on a 7-yard run, and Greg Gambrel caught a 53-yard bomb from Trey Jolly. Miciah Heard put an exclamation mark on the quarter by stepping in front of a Bourrage pass, returning the interception 51 yards for a score.
“You look up early and it is 12-0, and you’re thinking ‘oh boy,’ Sutton said. “But we were able to get some stuff going on offense and the defense started playing well and was giving us the ball back.”
The two teams traded touchdowns in the third before Marcus Green put the Vikings up 34-16 on a 45-yard catch-and-run with 11:02 to go in the game. However, the extra sailed wide right.
Kemper County took advantage, capitalizing on a short 40-yard field with an 8-yard strike from Bourrage to Devontae Vickers with 8:26 left, and, after forcing a third straight Viking three-and-out, scoring again via on a 51-yard pass from Bourrage to Dondre Andrew, the signal caller’s fourth on the night.
The Vikings had a chance to win in regulation, moving to the Wildcat 40 inside a minute to play, but the drive fizzled out.