JESSIEVILLE -- Centerpoint fed the scoreboard Friday night while trying to milk the clock, breaking Jessieville's back.
Down 16-13 and hoping to drive for a tying or winning score, Jessieville coach T.J. Burk called his first timeout of the second half on defense with 2:52 left in the game. The visiting Knights felled the Lions with a left-right combination, first converting a fourth down, and strode off Phillips Field with a 32-13 victory between two likely Class 3A playoff teams.
After chatting with coach Cary Rogers, junior quarterback Josh Lawson went over the top on fourth and seven from the Jessieville 25, finding receiver C.J. Fox for a touchdown. A holding penalty against Centerpoint (for grabbing Fox) was declined, and Lawson kept up the middle for a two-point conversion.
As after their first touchdown, the Knights got the ball back quickly on a Jessieville error and scored in one play. On second and 17, junior linebacker Dathan Vaught snagged an underthrown pass from Carson Hair. Houston Way barged in from 12 yards for a touchdown that gave the Knights the maximum 13 points for a conference victory according to the final margin. For good measure, the Pike County visitors added the two-point conversion.
Reduced to a ground game for the last 1:58, Jessieville dropped to 4-3, 2-2 in 3A-5 after its second home conference loss. Centerpoint, coming off a 35-20 home loss to conference kingpin Prescott, is 4-2 and 2-1 with Glen Rose this week. Jessieville has Fouke at home next but then goes to Prescott.
After a scoreless first quarter rife with penalties, Centerpoint changed its offensive philosophy with devastating effect. Lawson had come out passing, the Knights' first drive ending on a sideline interception by Hair. Way gained 14 yards running on the first play of their third possession and 10 on a third-and-six pass from Lawson, Jessieville chipping in 15 more on the latter play with a personal foul.
Way got the last 12 yards on three carries, scoring from four yards out early in the second quarter and adding the two-point conversion.
A line-drive kickoff hit a Jessieville defender in the chest and bounced to a Centerpoint defender in the Lions' end of the field. On first down, Lawson found Fox on a swing pass left for 29 yards and a touchdown. Lawson kept for two points and a 16-0 lead, which held up through halftime.
With Hair's protection breaking down, Jessieville looked dazed when Way bolted 41 yards in the third quarter with a diagonal cut across field. A holding penalty wiped out the touchdown, and the Knights were called for blocking in the back on the next play.
Forcing a punt, Jessieville went to work with Hair, a three-year starter, finding Davis for 8 and 10 yards. After a Centerpoint penalty, Hair hooked up with Davis down the sideline for a 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Hair's two-point pass, 3:13 left in the third quarter, went awry, but the Lions were back in business.
A fourth-quarter drive from the Jessieville 42 began with a 30-yard pass from Hair to Dexton Hilton. Overcoming a 10-yard sack, Hair kept for 19 on fourth and 12 and scored on the next play, a 13-yard run. The Lions kicked the point, 8:23 to play, one score down and with gathering momentum.
Outlooks on both sides -- and the scoreboard -- changed with the next play.