BEAR CREEK — Never mind the fact Atkins’ defense surrendered 40 points to host Chatham Central Friday night, because in the end it was the two points they didn’t allow that eventually …
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BEAR CREEK — Never mind the fact Atkins’ defense surrendered 40 points to host Chatham Central Friday night, because in the end it was the two points they didn’t allow that eventually determined the outcome.
When the Bears’ Riley Lagenor was stopped at the goal line attempting a two-point conversion run in the second overtime period, the Camels succeeded in hanging on to escape Bear Creek with a wild 41-40 non-conference triumph.
Atkins evened its season record at 1-1 in the first-ever gridiron meeting between the two schools, while Chatham Central fell to 0-2 for the year.
In a contest that featured both teams’ ability to put points on the scoreboard, the Camels jumped out to a 20-0 advantage in the first half only to see the Bears rally to grab a 34-26 lead with just over five minutes left.
However, Atkins then staged a last-ditch comeback to send the marathon game into overtime by tallying a touchdown and two-point conversion with 61 seconds to go in regulation play.
Chatham Central chose to take the initial possession in the first OT period and failed to score, with Camel’s defensive back Joseph Walker intercepting a fourth-down Michael Moore pass in the end zone.
But Atkins likewise couldn’t find the end zone in four attempts, forcing a second extra session.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second overtime, the Camel’s Elijah Hernandez scooted wide left 10 yards to pay dirt prior to Landon Privette booting the all-important point-after.
The Bears then answered with a third-down, six-yard scoring toss from Moore to Hunter Strickland in the right side of the end zone to pull within one.
Electing not to kick and impose a third extra period, Chatham Central went for the victory with Lagenor lugging the pigskin up the middle, but the Atkins defense halted his forward progress just inches from the goal line to seal the win while dealing the Bears a heartbreaking setback.
“I’m very proud how these guys didn’t let adversity stand in the way after they fell behind late in the game,” said Camels’ coach David Hamlin. “Even though we had a 14-point lead at halftime I told the team they couldn’t let up, and I think we found out a lot about our character tonight. I thought we did a good job matching momentum with Chatham Central in the second half, while our quarterback trusted his line to have a big night throwing the ball.”
Although the Bears’ defense limited Atkins to just 33 yards on the ground, Camels’ quarterback Jacob Torres managed to shred Chatham Central defenders for 422 yards through the air, including three touchdowns while completing 22-of-39 aerials with one interception.
Offensively for the Bears, Lagenor rushed for three scores while piling up 204 yards on 26 carries, while Moore threw for a pair of touchdowns, connecting on 14-of-24 passes for 140 yards with one pick.
“If we had executed better on both sides of the ball in the first half it would have been a different ball game,” said Chatham Central coach Sherman Howze. “We came out and played solid enough to win in the second half, taking advantage of what Atkins gave us, but things just didn’t bounce our way at the end. Nevertheless, I feel like this evening’s effort was a big confidence-builder for our guys.”
The Bears received the opening kickoff and marched from their 37 to the Atkins seven before a fumbled exchange in the backfield resulted in Camels’ defensive lineman Caliph Cherry recovering the loose ball.
Two plays later Torres found wide receiver Jalante Edwards open over the middle and connected on a 95-yard scoring play to put the visitors from Winston-Salem up 6-0 with 5:23 remaining in the first quarter.
Two plays into Chatham Central’s next series Atkins linebacker Elijah Hernandez pounced on a Lagenor bobble at the Bears’ 36 to set in motion a five-play scoring drive capped by Rasheed Simms running wide right and shedding a couple of tackles the last 16 yards to the end zone before Privette split the uprights to boost the Camels’ lead to 13-0 with exactly three minutes to go in the initial period.
Starting from its own 20 with just over seven minutes left in the first half, Atkins tallied two plays later when Torres hit wide receiver Joseph Walker in full stride down the right sideline around the Chatham Central 40 before he slipped a diving tackle attempt by Bears’ cornerback Trey Clay at the 35 and waltzed across the goal line to increase the Camels’ advantage to 20-0 with 5:47 remaining until intermission.
But Chatham Central would convert an interception by linebacker Zach Ritter at the Atkins 42 with 2:21 left prior to the break into a three-play scoring drive climaxed when Lagenor burst through a huge hole up the middle untouched the final 18 yards 55 seconds later to close to gap to 20-6 at halftime.
The Camels received the second half kickoff and promptly marched 80 yards in 10 plays to stretch their lead to 26-6 following Torres’ two-yard plunge behind center with 7:14 remaining in the third stanza.
The Bears answered by driving 58 yards in five plays to draw within 26-14 when Collin Lagenor culminated the march by angling the last eight yards off left tackle prior to Riley Lagenor tossing a two-point conversion pass to Moore with 4:57 to go in the third quarter.
After holding Atkins to a three-and-out series on the Camels’ ensuing possession, Chatham Central drove 41 yards in four plays to trim the difference to 26-20 when wide receiver Tyler Oldham split two defenders in the back right corner of the end zone to haul in a 23-yard scoring strike from Moore with 1:31 left in the third period.
Regaining possession of the ball at their own 32 following an Atkins punt with 19.3 seconds remaining in the quarter, the Bears seized their first advantage of the evening on the second play of the fourth period when Riley Lagenor electrified the crowd by weaving his way through the Camels’ defense on a 55-yard scoring jaunt before Abad de la Sancha’s extra-point kick put Chatham Central ahead 27-26.
Following Ritter’s recovery of a muffed Atkins punt attempt at the Camels’ 25 with 6:03 left, the Bears proceeded to extend their lead to 34-26 two plays later when Riley Lagenor dashed untouched the final eight yards off right tackle prior to de la Sancha’s point-after with 5:19 to go.
But with its back against the wall, Atkins launched a time-consuming 14-play, 80-yard scoring march finished off by Walker’s leaping catch of a six-yard pass from Torres in the back right corner of the end zone before Torres completed a two-point conversion pass to Hernandez with 1:01 showing on the clock to send the teams into overtime.