By Anthony Rhoads
FAYETTEVILLE The Lovejoy Wildcats pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year Friday night as they beat the No. 6-ranked Starr's Mill Panthers 27-26 at Starr's Mill.
"It's awesome," Lovejoy head coach Al Hughes said. "It's a big win for our program and a big win for our kids. It's very exciting for our kids."
The contest was deadlocked in a 20-20 tie at the end of regulation with Lovejoy (3-2) getting the first overtime possession.
Lovejoy's Anthony Stanley scored on an 11-yard run and Matias Ferreira tacked on the extra point to give Lovejoy a 27-20 advantage.
Starr's Mill's Antonio Scott scored on a 4-yard run but Robert Hawkins missed the extra point, giving Lovejoy the victory.
Lovejoy quarterback Mario Fannin led the way for Lovejoy as he gained 110 yards on 22 carries. He completed 8 of 17 passes for 145 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Fannin's favorite target on the night was Chris Hail, who caught four passes for 77 yards.
Scott led all rushers with 132 yards on 15 carries.
"We have a tremendous amount of respect for Starr's Mill and coach (Mike) Earwood," Hughes said. "They're what everyone wants their program to be."
Lovejoy marched to the Starr's Mill 31 on its first drive but with 6:45 remaining in the first quarter, Starr's Mill's Chad Gloer recovered a Mario Fannin fumble.
Two plays later, Antonio Scott ran 61 yards for the first score of the game.
Lovejoy answered on its next possession, driving 60 yards on eight plays. With 2:32 remaining, Fannin connected with Chris Hail for a 27-yard touchdown pass.
On Lovejoy's first possession of the second quarter, Fannin passed for Hail for a 34-yard gain to set Lovejoy up at the Starr's Mill 6. On third and goal, Octavius Edge scored on a 1-yard run to give Lovejoy the advantage.
Starr's Mill (5-1) wasted little time coming back. With about four minutes remaining in the half, Robby Davis hit Sean O'Brien for a 49-yard completion.
On the next play, Davis ran 17 yards for the score.
Starr's Mill extended its lead to 20-13 with :58 seconds remaining in the half when Davis threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Carter Scurry.
Lovejoy managed to get to the Starr's 40-yard line late in the second quarter but with five seconds remaining, Philip Shell intercepted a Fannin pass.
Lovejoy tied the game at 20-20 when Steven Smith ran 59 yards for a touchdown as time ran out in the third quarter.
With about 8:30 remaining in the fourth quarter, Starr's Mill converted on a fourth-and-three as fullback Kyle McCreary ran five yards for the first down.
But McCreary fumbled on the next play and Lovejoy's David Mobley recovered.
Lovejoy managed to get to Starr's Mill 20 but the drive stalled. With 2:26 remaining, Ferreira missed a 32-yard field goal.
Lovejoy got one more chance in regulation when Starr's Mill had to punt with 15 seconds remaining.
Fannin was able to complete a 14-yard pass to Travis Addison to put Lovejoy at the Starr's Mill 43. On the final play of regulation, Starr's Mill's Branden Lewis intercepted a Fannin pass.
Scoring by quarters
L - 7 6 7 0 7 - 27
S - 7 13 0 0 6 - 26
S - Antonio Scott 61 run 6:27 (Robert Hawkins kick)
L - Mario Fannin to Chris Hail 27 pass 2:32 (Matias Ferreira kick)
L - Octavius Edge 1 run 6:04 (kick failed)
S - Robby Davis 17 run 3:53 (Robert Hawkins kick)
S - Davis to Robert Scurry 6 pass :58 (kick failed)
L - Steven Smith 59 run :00 (Ferreira kick)
L - Anthony Stanley 11 run (Ferreira kick)
S - Scott 4 run (kick failed)