BROOKLYN - In the end, it came down to one play, win or lose.
With just seven seconds left on the game clock, Purvis coach Perry Wheat said no to overtime, going for a 2-point conversion after the Tornadoes had just scored a touchdown.
But the defense for Forrest County AHS rose to the occasion, making the stop to preserve a 21-20 Aggies' victory before a packed house at Henley Field. "What a super ballgame," said FCAHS coach Larry Dolan. "Purvis won the second half, we won the first half. We just made one more play than they did." FCAHS (3-1) rebounded from last week's bitter loss to Bassfield, while Purvis (2-2) lost coming out of a bye week. "After last week, we needed a good, close ball game," Dolan said. And that's what he got, although it didn't seem like that would be the case after the Aggies played a picture-perfect first half, while Purvis spent the first two quarters shooting itself in the foot. Three costly turnovers and a brilliant first half by Aggies junior tailback Dontavian Lee gave FCAHS a 21-0 halftime lead. "We got ourselves in a hole there in the first half," Wheat said. "It seemed like we were a little shell-shocked, and stood around a little bit too much. We came out with a different attitude and got after it a little bit more after halftime." FCAHS got on the board late in the first quarter on an 8-yard run by Le'Darien Lee, but Purvis seemed to have a responding drive in order when Tornadoes senior tailback Thamaz Taylor lost a fumble that the Aggies recovered at the 1-yard-line. On second down from the Aggies' 3, Dontavian Lee took a pitch over right tackle, burst into the clear and dashed 97 yards for a score to put FCAHS ahead 14-0. "We ran a 'dog,' which is a pitch play off the tackle," said Lee, who had 189 yards rushing in the first half, and finished with 307 yards on 26 carries. "I was actually looking for contact, because I'm a physical runner, but when I saw the open field, I told myself, 'Please don't let them catch me.'" Lee got his second score on a 1-yard run after an interception set the Aggies up at the Purvis 33. But it was a different Purvis team that came out for the second half, despite losing a fumble on the opening kickoff of the half. The Tornadoes stopped the Aggies on fourth down, then drove 52 yards on eight plays, with Nathan Roseberry passing to Markell Pack for a 10-yard scoring play. Purvis needed just three plays to narrow the margin, after stopping FCAHS on a three-and-out, scoring on a 55-yard dash by Pack. The score stayed 21-14 into the fourth quarter, when the Tornadoes held on fourth down for the third time in the half, getting the ball at their own 37-yard line with 5:46 to play. "Their offense was clicking," Dolan said. "I told Brad (Hankins, FCAHS defensive coordinator) that if he scores, they're going for two. That's what I would have done. Momentum was flying their way." And the Tornadoes did indeed drive relentlessly down the field, with Taylor getting the score on a 2-yard run. Nearly everyone expected Taylor to get the ball on the conversion, but when the Tornadoes lined up, they were in a spread formation with an empty backfield. Roseberry took the ball on a keeper and tried the left side, but senior linebacker Logan Thompson snuffed out the play, getting help from teammate Stacey Garner. "I was surprised," Thompson said. "Nathan is a good, little quarterback, but I figured they'd give it to their main guy." "I stunted on the play, because I expected something up the middle, and fortunately I was able to get a hand on him, then a few of my teammates came in to help me bring him down." Wheat said he never considered kicking the PAT, and had no regrets about the call. "We thought we had a good play," Wheat said. "We were going to go for the win. They'd been more consistent running the ball, and in a 10-yard situation (in overtime), we felt we were at a disadvantage. "We wanted to win or lose on one play."