Trailing 14-0, Amory senior Frank Carter returned the second half’s opening kick 85 yards to help the Panthers take momentum and eventually the game, a 19-14 Division 4-4A upset to close the regular season.
Seconds after the return, Louisville turned the ball back over to Amory when Channing French recovered a fumble. Forest Williams took advantage, hitting Josh Andress on a 12 yard touchdown to pull within one after Zach Khima missed the point after attempt.
In the fourth, Jore’el Freeman scored from four yards away with 2:25 left for a 19-14 win.
“They played hard,” Amory coach Pat Byrd said. “You go down 14-0 in the first three minutes and the easy thing to do is lay your butt down, shut her down. They didn’t do that, came back second half, fought their butts off and I’m proud of them for that.”
Louisville got to the Amory 28 yard line with 1 minute, 45 seconds to play, but quarterback Chris Wraggs was sacked back to the 36 by Evan Holcomb and Duane Gilleylen on third down before Chris French intercepted Wraggs to wrap up Amory’s third win, all in division.
“We didn’t come here ready to play and Amory really got after it,” said Louisville coach Brad Peterson. “The momentum changed so quick on the kickoff return. They got the momentum. We never could get it back.”
The Panthers are Division 4-4A’s No. 4 seed and will travel to the winner of today’s Shannon-Itawamba game when the postseason begins on Friday.
Losers of two straight, the Wildcats (7-4, 3-2) scored twice in the opening quarter, an 11 yard touchdown catch for Markese Triplett and a Wraggs 28 yard run.
A steady rain fell harder as Amory blew two early chances to pull close in the second quarter. Drew Carter recovered Triplett’s fumbled punt inside the Louisville 15, but Broam Ashford got a fumble right back for Louisville. Johnathan Randle then picked off Wraggs and ran 21 yards to the Louisville 4 yard line, but Broam recovered a second straight Amory fumble.
This victory “verifies some hard work,” Byrd said. “We’re not real talented in spots, but the kids played their butts off and that is a fine, fine football team that we just played.”
Amory looked to go ahead midway through the fourth after Khima narrowly missed a 42 yard field goal, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave the Panthers the ball inside the Wildcat 20. Williams was stripped on the ensuing option play and lost the ball at the 16.
The Amory defense held and got a pass interference call that wiped away a Louisville interception on Amory’s next drive. Williams then broke free for a 16 yard run to the 4 yard line, where Freeman did the rest.
“Oh gosh, this was a big win,” sophomore quarterback Williams said. “We really needed this going to the playoffs. We really needed a big win.”