By Derrick Mahone
What started off as a mistake-prone, penalty-filled game, ended in what some might consider an instant classic.
Lovejoy needed overtime Thursday to defeated North Clayton 27-21 at Twelve Oaks Stadium in a key Region 4-AAAA contest. Wildcats running back Travis Custis become the workhorse in the offense in leading the team to the win. The sophomore scored the last three touchdowns for Lovejoy, which improved to 2-0 on the season.
In the overtime period, Custis scored on a 2-yard run from the middle for the winning score. During the Wildcats' overtime possession, Custis had six carries for 15 yards.
Custis scored on a 13-yard touchdown with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and on a two-point conversion run, to give the Wildcats' a 21-14 lead. His touchdown came on a third-and-two play.
On the ensuing kickoff, North Clayton's Michael Ross returned the ball to the Eagles' 47-yard line. It only took Eagles' quarterback Dennis Johnson four plays before connecting with Khalil Stinson on a 12-yard pass play for a touchdown. Sandaly Traore kicked the game-tying extra point to send the game into overtime at 21-21.
During the game-tying drive, Johnson was 3 of 3 passing for 50 yards, he also scrambled 13 yards for a first down on the crucial possession.
In overtime, North Clayton got the ball first, but fumbled on the second play on an inside reserve to kill the drive.
Lovejoy wasted little time in going for the win as the Wildcats feed the North Clayton defense a steady diet of Custis, who had all 15 yards rushing on six plays.
The Wildcats took a 13-6 lead with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter when Custis scored on a 5-yard run to cap an eight-play drive. Lovejoy was able to capitalize on fumble for the go-ahead score. Rumeal Barbary recovered a fumble at the Eagles' 24-yard line to setup the score.
That would close out the scoring in the third quarter before a wild late fourth quarter finish.
North Clayton would pull within a point when sophomore Aaron Adwater blocked a punt that was recovered by Quintavius Baker for a 10-yard touchdown as the Eagles' trailed 13-12 with 5:29 remaining.
The Eagles lined up for a game-tying extra-point attempt, but Stinson took a reserve pitch and found Amarlo Herrera open in the end zone for a two-point conversion and a 14-13 lead.
Both teams score with under a minute left to put the game into overtime.
After Custis scored on a 13-yard run to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead with 41 seconds remaining, the Eagles would come back to tie the game.
Both teams seemed out of synch with each committing an abundance of penalties. Lovejoy was penalized 12 times for 81 yards while the Eagles were flagged 10 times for 63 yards.
Offensively, North Clayton leading rusher Ladarrius Mathis had 101 yards rushing, 65 coming on one play. He scored the team's first touchdown on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 6-6 with 3:30 remaining in the second quarter.
Custis finished with 86 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.