By Brandon Speck
OKOLONA – Calhoun City made the last play of the regular season count Friday in its 26-25 win against Okolona to win the Division 4-2A championship.
His team down 25-20, Calhoun City’s Travone Petty caught a tipped pass and went 43 yards for the deciding touchdown with 62 seconds remaining.
“Every pregame we practice on concentration drills,” Petty said. “This put us in a good position.”
Okolona (5-4, 2-2) fell all the way to the division’s fourth playoff spot and will be on the road at West Bolivar Friday. Calhoun City (7-3, 4-0) will host J.Z. George.
“Was that a game or what!” Calhoun City coach Perry Liles said. “I’m so proud of both teams. We wanted to go all out and win and they did too.”
The touchdown grabbed victory from Okolona, the Journal’s No. 4-ranked small school. The Chieftains had just scored on a fourth-and 24 with Jacolbi Heard’s 88-yardTD pass to Rod Jones to take the lead with 2:35 left.
“It came down to kids making plays,” Okolona coach Jack Clark said. “We fell behind on extra points early and started chasing the point. That one point is the difference in the game.”
It was Jones’ second touchdown. He scored on a 50-yard pass interception on the game’s first play.
Lavarious Varando scored three rushing touchdowns and finished with 13 carries for 69 yards for No. 3 Calhoun City. Okolona back Dequin Babbit rushed 23 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Okolona missed two field goals and three 2-point conversions.
Okolona took advantage of a turnover on downs in the first half to score on Babbit’s 2-yard run. After an onside kick attempt, Calhoun City drove 56 yards and got within 19-14 on Varnado’s 2-yard run.
“I thought we played a lot cleaner the first half,” Clark said. “I thought we ran the ball well. I thought we got a little worn down.”