It literally took the entire 48 minutes to settle the outcome of Friday night's season opener between Prairie View and Claiborne Academy. Maclendon Sharp's 50-yard touchdown reception with no time left on the clock gave the Spartans a pulsating 20-19 victory over the Rebels.
Claiborne had taken a 19-14 lead with 1:42 remaining.
Layne Gray returned the ensuing kickoff to the 35.
After moving the chains, the Spartans were out of timeouts and running out of time. On third down, quarterback Dylan Carroll spiked the ball a midfield to stop the clock with time for one final play.
What a final play it was.
Sharp snared Carroll's pass at the 2 and continued on to paydirt.
“It was very exciting — almost too exciting,” Prairie View coach Reagan Morrison said. “The kids just kept fighting.”
Prairie View installed the no huddle offense it used on the final drive in Tuesday's practice.
“We ran the no huddle for about 10 minutes in practice Tuesday,” Morrison said. “The kids seemed real poised and never got rattled. We had good protection (on the game-winning play) and connected on it.”
Prairie View used a defensive touchdown to get on the board as defensive end Josh Daigle jarred the ball loose from a Claiborne running back and Gray took the recovery to the house from 30 yards out.
Claiborne, however, led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and carried a 13-6 cushion into intermission.
“Not to take anything away from Claiborne, but I told the guys at halftime that we did not play a good first half at all and we were only down by seven points,” Morrison said. “I told them we had to respond on the first drive and we went down and scored and got the momentum back.”
Receiving the second half kickoff, the Spartans trimmed the deficit to 13-12 on Carroll's 12-yard TD strike to Matt Reed. Garrett Laird ran the all-important 2-point conversion to put the visitors up 14-13.
Making his first varsity start, Carroll finishing the evening 10-of-23 for 183 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Sharp was the recipient of six passes for 121 yards.
Still, the Spartans have their share of mistakes to correct entering Friday's MAIS District 3-2A and home opener vs. Riverdale.
“This was a big win for us, but we definitely have some things to clean up,” Morrison said. “I don't even want to know how many penalties we had, we dropped six passes and we lost three fumbles.
“Offensively, we have to execute better. I thought we played well at times on offense, but we have to be more consistent.”
Prairie View netted 132 yards on the ground. Playing through an ankle injury, Laird produced 58 yards on 11 carries.
Daigle registered six tackles, a pair of sacks and forced a fumble to key the Spartans defensively. Gray posted a team-high seven stops to go with the touchdown recovery and Cooper Brown added six stops. Andrew Jenkins recovered two fumbles, one on a mishandled punt.
Reed averaged 35 yards per punt.
“Defensively, I thought we played pretty good in the first quarter and I thought we played well in the second half,” Morrison said. “We still have to work on some tackling and our containment. They got outside on us a couple of times.
“But it's a whole lot easier to work on those things when you're 1-0 instead of 0-1.”