LITTLE ROCK -- Nearly perfect in four years at Pulaski Academy, Layne Hatcher beat Little Rock McClellan Saturday night with both his arm and feet.
The Bruins' senior quarterback completed a 47-yard pass on fourth down and scrambled 19 yards for a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Class 5A championship game at War Memorial Stadium. With 6:03 left, Hatcher kicked the extra point for a 37-36 PA victory and the school's fourth consecutive state title.
Although suffering three interceptions and seven sacks, Hatcher completed 29 of 50 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns. Hatcher (6-1, 195) led the Bruins to a 41-1 record in four years as a starter, winning 26 consecutive after a 2016 loss (37-23) to Utah's Salt Lake City East.
Hatcher scored the Bruins' last two touchdowns after McClellan, once up 14-0, led 36-23 in the third quarter. He went in from five yards out early in the fourth quarter after keeping for 12 yards on fourth and one from the McClellan 18, kicking the Bruins within 36-30.
Junior John David White's end-zone interception triggered an 80-yard, eight-play scoring drive on which Hatcher starred. Gambling on fourth and nine from the Bruins' 21, Hatcher found senior Brett Lynch open deep in single coverage for 47 yards to the McClellan 32. Hatcher completed two more passes before scrambling for the tying touchdown on third and seven.
Pulaski Academy preserved the hard-earned lead with defense. Senior linebacker Wesley Wise sacked quarterback Tyrse Lair for a 10-yard loss on fourth and three at the PA 37 and White forced a fumble recovered by Lynch in the final minute.
McClellan held Pulaski Academy to its lowest output of a 14-game season that the Bruins scored 784 points, including 86 in a conference game against Little Rock Christian.
Unbeaten against Arkansas opponents since a 57-50 semifinal loss to Morrilton in 2013, Pulaski Academy downed conference rival McClellan in the state final for the second time in three years. The state title is the seventh in 15 years for Bruins coach Kevin Kelley, a Glenwood native whom USA Today named national high-school coach of the year in 2016.
Pulaski Academy is the first Arkansas team to win four consecutive state football titles since Barton in 1986-89. The Bruins went to Nettleton for the semifinals after playoff victories over Valley View and Harrison.
Seeking its first state title since 1971, McClellan finished 10-4, playing all of its games on the road because of construction at the school's stadium. Losing 61-29 to PA in the regular season, the Crimson Lions were seeded third from 5A-Central but earned a rematch with the Bruins after playoff victories over Batesville, Alma and Wynne.Sports on 12/04/2017
Print Headline: Bruins rally for 5A title, perfect season