Patriots rally to win in the fourth
&uot;I'm about to have a heart attack,&uot; said exhausted Pike Liberal Arts head coach Brian Seymore as he walked off the field after Friday night's 20-13 come-from-behind win over Glenwood.
This was a game unlike any other this season for the Patriots (4-2, 2-2), who had been involved in nothing but blowouts prior to Friday's game.
And the Gators, whose record dropped to 0-5 with the loss, were not expected to keep the score close. Instead, for the first time all season the Patriots were faced with late-game adversity, and they responded with heart.
Faced with a 13-8 deficit with less than six minutes left to play, it was gut check time for Pike.
&uot;I like this kind of game. It tests your team, tests their heart. I like how our kids responded,&uot; Seymore said.
The Patriots responded by riding the back of senior tailback Sam Sellers. Sellers, who unofficially gained 265 yards on the ground, took the game over with 5:37 left.
Sellers had four carries for 56 yards on the drive, giving the Patriots a 14-13 lead with a 34-yard touchdown run with less than four minutes remaining.
&uot;We knew we had to keep getting the ball to Sam. He had a little problem early with fumbles, but he's a playmaker and he made plays when it mattered most,&uot; Seymore said.
The drive almost stalled out at midfield. After an initial first-down run by Sellers, the Gators stuffed the Patriots on two runs and broke up a pass.
Thanks to a hard count from quarterback Brent Poole, the Patriots drew Glenwood offside two straight times, giving the Patriots an automatic first down.
&uot;We've got a freeze play we use quite often. Brent Poole did a good job with it and gave a real good hard count that drew them off,&uot; Seymore said.
After the Patriots took the lead, they added another touchdown with 2:21 left in the game.
After taking over on downs, Sellers took a handoff 22 yards into the end zone, putting the score at 20-13.
&uot;This is why you coach. I just thank the good Lord for this one,&uot; Seymore said. &uot;We've got a lot of work still to do, [but] this was a fun game.&uot;
Early on, it appeared to be an easy night for the Patriots. After stopping Glenwood on its first possession, Pike - or, rather, Sellers - needed just three plays to get on the scoreboard.
On the first Patriots play from scrimmage, Sellers took a toss play 62 yards to just inside the 5-yard line. Two plays later, Sellers scored on a dive, followed by Chase Avant scoring a two-point conversion to put the Patriots up 8-0 just four minutes into the game.
Tackles-for-loss by Pike Lib defenders Cooper Nichols and Joseph Stephens helped stop the Gators, but the Patriots fumbled on their next possession.
Glenwood recovered, then scored on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Blake Dorman to Derek Webster just five plays later, bringing the score to 8-7.
Glenwood kicker Justin Lehnoff added a 35-yard field goal as the first half expired to give the Gators a 10-8 halftime lead.
Lehnoff connected on another 31-yard field goal on the Gators' first drive of the second half, putting the lead at 13-8 and causing worry to Seymore and his staff.
&uot;I tell you, Glenwood played an outstanding game. I can't say enough about them. They took it to us most of the game, honestly,&uot; Seymore said. &uot;Mark my words, they'll give a lot of teams trouble, because this is a truly talented team.&uot;
The rest of the second half saw the Patriots' offense stifled, but the defense rose to the occasion. Avant and Nichols seemed to be involved in every defensive play. Avant notched several pass breakups, while Nichols was heavily involved in slowing Glenwood's running game, which was effective in the first three quarters.
Stephens and Brent Kohn also made contributions defensively.
&uot;I credit our seniors for stepping up. We keep pushing and keep driving, and they stepped up,&uot; Seymore said.