Overton’s up-and-down season took a turn back “up” on Friday, thanks in good part to shifty tailback Willis Word.
The senior rushed for 205 yards on 22 carries and accounted for about half of Overton’s total offense in an exciting 31-28 win over host Lipscomb Academy on Friday. He missed the season-opening loss to Ryan and it was obvious in his return what his presence brings to the Bobcats.
“It was very hard missing that opener,” Word said. “I wanted so badly to be out there helping my teammates. I’m just glad I’m back so I can contribute to our success.”
Word, combined with fellow back Justin Martin for all four Overton touchdowns. Martin’s 34-yard scoring bolt with 4:26 left in the game proved to be the winning score as the lead changed twice in the final minutes.
“Justin and I alternate,” Word said. “We just want to give our best during the time that we’re out there. We each bring something to the running game to help us be successful.”
The victory gave the Bobcats (2-2) some momentum, heading into the Region 6-AAA opener Friday against Cane Ridge.
“It’s really good to have Willis back, and he and Justin certainly give our team a big boost,” coach Terry Anderson, whose team rolled up 404 yards of total offense, said. “This game had a lot of ups and downs, and about the only difference was we made just a couple of more plays than they did.”
• WHEN IT COUNTS: One of those plays came from senior wide receiver Rozelle Wilson, who made up for a dropped pass in the fourth quarter with two key receptions that sparked Overton’s winning drive.
Wilson’s drop came on first down, but quarterback Derek Watkins came back to him two plays later for an 11-yard gain followed by a 29-yard catch and run on the very next play. That got the Bobcats to the Lipscomb 34 and set up Martin’s game-winning score on the next play.
Overton then held on thanks to two late interceptions by defensive back Ivan Alsup and a key sack by Saveion Okraku.
“I had that one drop, and I wanted to be sure I didn’t let my team down again,” the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Wilson said. “This was a big win for us against a good team, and I hope this gets us on the right track.”
Wilson, one of Overton’s best athletes, has been heavily recruited by Clemson, Duke and MTSU and is interested in Vanderbilt.
Lipscomb (2-1) relied on a running back combo of its own, seniors Kenneth Drew (100 yards rushing) and Gabe Glimps (87 yards rushing and two touchdowns).
“That was a very entertaining game for someone who didn’t care who won,” veteran Lipscomb coach Glenn McCadams said. “But for us, it was very disappointing because we had plenty of chances to win.”
The game ended on a somber note when Lipscomb’s Reed Irwin was injured late.
The senior nose guard laid on the field for several moments before he was placed on a cart and taken by ambulance to the hospital. He had movement in his extremities and initially appeared to be out of danger.
Officials ended the game at that point, with 32 seconds left.
The biggest upset Friday came when host Hillwood stunned Father Ryan with two second-half touchdowns in a 13-10 win.
The Toppers (2-2) hadn’t beaten Ryan since 1991 (the score that year was 6-3), although the schools didn’t play each other much in the time since. In five games since they starting scheduling one another in 2007, Ryan outscored Hillwood by a combined 150-17 in five victories.
Andre Johnson’s 33-yard interception return was the game-winner late in the third quarter. That came after DeCora Miller’s long punt return led to an eight-yard touchdown run — by Miller — on the next play.
“It was a great win for Hillwood,” coach James (Bubba) Spears, who is in his third year with the Toppers, said. “This comes when athletes make plays, not excuses. But we’ve got work to do. The question for us is can we build on this win, continue to work hard and practice and improve as a team.”
Hillwood has a chance to get over .500 next week against winless Hunters Lane.