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TAYLORSVILLE – With 29.8 seconds to play in Friday night’s 14-all Class AAAA, District 3 football game and the ball on Spencer County’s 14-yard line, there was no question where Collins was going – front pylon.
Lawson Page’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Sames, just past the front pylon of the end zone, with 22.4 seconds to play lifted the Titans to a 21-14 triumph over the Bears.
That play has become a staple for Collins, which used the same play to defeat Shelby County last season.
“We all knew it was coming,” Page said.
It capped off a 5-play, 86-yard, 55-second final drive for the Titans (5-1, 2-0), who won their fifth game in a row.
Taking over at his own 14 with 1:17 on the clock, Page engineered a drive that Collins Coach Jerry Lucas termed “fantastic.”
After Ryan Watkins rushed for 7 yards on the Titans’ first play, Page completed four passes in a row: a 10-yarder to Sames, who got out of bounds at Spencer County’s 31, a 29-yarder over the middle to Sames, who broke a couple of tackles before he was taken down at the Bears’ 40, a 26-yard pass to all-purpose back Dre Farris, before the game-winning touchdown.
“The offensive line was amazing. I had all the time in the world,” Page said.
On the Titans’ final play Sames sprinted to the back of the end zone, then came back toward the front pylon for the catch.
“We knew we had to execute on it, and we did,” Sames said.
“Nathan’s an amazing player, he’s clutch,” Page added.
Spencer County (2-4, 0-2) got the ball to its 39 before the game ended on an incompletion.
“That was a hard-nosed football game. They’re a very tough team, we’re lucky to come out with the win,” said Sames, who had a game-high 10 catches for 137 yards and two TDs.
The difficult game started almost at the beginning, when the teams traded opening touchdowns.
Collins, which had defeated the Bears, 38-35, last year in Shelbyville, took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards in eight plays. Farris’ 1-yard TD plunge and Blanton Creque’s conversion kick gave the Titans a 7-0 lead just 3:01 into the game.
Spencer County responded quickly. Two plays after Kynan Smith fumbled the ball, grabbed it in midair and ran for a 20-yard gain, diminutive Spencer running back Logan Holbrook emerged from a scrum – on a play in which the pile kept pushing forward, but was never whistled dead – and sprinted 56 yards for a touchdown. Gabe Nash blocked the PAT kick, though, to keep Collins on top.
That’s the way the score remained at halftime, after Creque narrowly missed a 58-yard field goal attempt (it was a few yards short) late in the half. If successful the kick by Creque, who has hit from that distance in practice, would’ve tied the state record set by Raceland’s Aaron Pettrey in 2003.
The Titans forced the Bears to punt on their first possession of the second half, then negotiated a short field for a 5-play, 45-yard scoring drive that was capped by Page’s 23-yard TD pass to Sames.
Spencer County tied the score early in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard halfback touchdown pass – on fourth-and-6 – from Shawn Boykin, the Spencer County Homecoming King, to Smith. Quarterback Jacob DeRudder then passed to Boykin for the 2-point conversion to make it 14-all with 11:03 to play.
After an exchange of possession, Derek Clemens’ kick pinned Collins at its own 3 with 5:54 to play.
The Titans used four running plays in a row – Farris barely escaped being tackled in the end zone on the first one – before Landon Forrest fumbled away the ball at Collins’ 39 after catching a pass from Page with 3:54 left.
“I still felt okay because our defense had been playing great,” Lucas said.
Spencer County ran three plays and punted, with Collins’ taking over at its own 14.
“We had to overcome adversity and figure out what we needed to do on that last drive,” said Page, who completed 21 of 31 passes for 229 yards and those two TDs to Sames.
Page also finished with 37 rushing yards, three behind Watkins. Farris totaled 88 yards of offense (23 rushing and 65 receiving). Meanwhile, fellow Western Kentucky University recruit Masai Whyte led the Titans’ defense with 18 tackles. Sophomore safety Quintin “Pookie” Murphy and senior defensive end Zach “Buck” Wilson added eight stops apiece.
“When you see the score, the first thing you think is it was an ugly win, but I thought it was a great win,” Lucas said.
The Titans, who are ranked fourth in 4A in this week’s Associated Press poll, play at 6A No. 8 Central Hardin (6-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.