COLLINSVILLE — It came down to the very end.
On fourth down and goal from the 3-yard line, West Lauderdale quarterback Eli Bryan was tackled at the 1, and Philadelphia was able to hang on and hold off a late Knight rally to defeat West Lauderdale 29-21 at Knight Stadium on Friday night.
“The guys on our defense never quit, and they stepped up when they had too,” Philadelphia coach David Frey said. “Too many mistakes again by us, especially in special teams. I’m happy we won but I’m upset we didn’t finish strong.”
Kornelius Triplett scored on a 8-yard touchdown run to put Philadelphia up 29-6 with 7:01 left in the fourth quarter.
West Lauderdale then made a huge comeback in the final six minutes.
Eli Bryan hit Wyatt Castle on a 20-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 29-13.
After the Knights recovered the ensuing onside kick at their own 48, they scored three plays later on a Bryan 15-yard quarterback keeper for a touchdown.
After the Tornadoes were forced to punt on their ensuing possession, the Knights took over at their own 10-yard line with 42 seconds left and used two hook-and-lateral plays to get to the Philadelphia 21-yard line.
Bryan then hit Jackson Parker on a slant route to the Tornado 3.
After three straight incomplete passes, Bryan was tackled at the 1-yard line as time expired.
“We tried to do the little things right, and we were doing that in the final minutes of the game. I’m very proud of the kids for fighting back and never giving up,” West Lauderdale coach Brock Clay said. “We had momentum and just came up short.”
Mississippi State commit Lideatrick Griffin gave Philadelphia an early 6-0 lead when he returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown.
West Lauderdale running back Ja’Karius Grant tied the game at 6 on an 11-yard touchdown run with 7:30 left in the second quarter.
The Tornadoes went up 9-6 at halftime on a 26-yard field goal by Connor Long.
On the second play of the third quarter, West Lauderdale fumbled, and Philadelphia’s Tanner Boler scooped and scored on a 46-yard fumble return to extend the Tornado lead to 15-6.
Boler then added a 40-yard punt return for a touchdown and after a successful two-point conversion, extending the Philadelphia lead to 23-6.
“I just had an opportunity I had to take. I wasn’t even listening when I saw the punt was short, I just took the opportunity and saw an open field and ran,” Boler said. “I didn’t want to lose this game and had to give it all I had. We have one of the best defenses in 2A, and later in the year everyone in Mississippi will know about us. We just have to come together as team and continue to get better as the year progresses.”