PEARCY -- The case for never giving up and fighting till the end was made in grand fashion by the Wolves Friday night, as they took down Mountain Home 44-38 in a shootout at Wolf Stadium.
With Lake Hamilton leading by three going into the fourth quarter, the Bombers had stolen a 38-34 lead before the Wolves cut it to two off a safety with 1:21 to go. A few plays later, on fourth-and-10 from the Mountain Home 38-yard line and 25 seconds to go, Wolves senior quarterback Easton Hurley connected with David Felan for the acrobatic catch in traffic at the 1-yard line, to which Hayden Barton drove to ultimately set the final after the good two-point conversion.
"Great catch by David Felan," Lake Hamilton head coach Tommy Gilleran said. "He drops one wide open in the fourth quarter and then he catches one that's like unbelievable. I'm just proud of the effort of these guys. We had a lot of seniors last year and then this year we have a younger team, but they're starting to get better each week. We just got to keep battling and figuring out how to get better."
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Lake Hamilton (2-2, 1-1 6A-West) totaled 414 yards on the night to Mountain Home's (2-2, 0-2 6A-West) 349, also racking up 33:16 in time of possession to the Bombers' 14:44. The Wolves came into the game off a 42-14 road loss to Little Rock Christian Academy last week while the Bombers were coming off a 55-7 home loss to Greenwood.
Hurley would go 9-for-14 passing on the night for 126 yards.
"I think a lot of it has to do with Easton," he said of the team's mental drive. "Easton, he never gives up and he fights to the end. And that pass, what a pass."
Mountain Home head coach Steve Ary said a few plays proved to be the difference in the ballgame for them.
"They came out and kind of owned us in the first half as far as defensively," he said. "We got a little bit better but we just had a lot of mistakes. They played well, I don't want to take anything away from them but we got to play smarter football, and obviously we had a couple hiccups here and there that proved to be huge. That was a great play by (Felan). That was a great play."
The Wolves managed to keep the upper hand heading into the second quarter, up 7-3, despite penalties starting to rack up. Their offensive momentum continued into the second, when on third down, Hurley snuck it in from the 1-yard line for a 14-3 lead following Bryan Garcia's extra point.
The Bombers started their first real offensive push of the night on the next series, however, with senior running back Daelyn Delapenha snagging the catch for a 45-yard touchdown.
Although Hurley would hit an open Derynn Owens on the left sideline for the score with 2:10 to go, the Wolves had racked up over 100 yards of penalties, with two touchdowns called back to lead 20-10 at the break.
Gilleran said if not for the penalties in the first half, the game would have been much different.
"That's one thing about this group. You know, this is my 30th year of coaching. Even when they get knocked down, they just battle back. I've never even seen anything like it man. It's like, 'I'm just going to keep fighting. We'll figure this out as we go.' Because a lot of teams, when you been beat a couple times, when you get knocked down, you just go, 'Well here we go again.' Not this group. This group here goes, 'Let's go man,'" he said.
Ary said he spent the entire halftime making adjustments with the team. The Bombers came out with a noticeably aggressive offensive push.
"I felt like we did a pretty good job with it," he said. "We knew our offense was going to be OK. We felt like we had a better skill set than they had and we knew our offense was going to generate points, we just had to generate two or three stops and then we might win the football game but it didn't happen."
Gilleran noted his team is young this year and making a lot of mistakes, particularly defensively.
"You know, all the running backs are all new. I know Hayden played at times in the playoffs but he didn't play most of the year. Got a lot of young kids out there but they made a lot of plays tonight and I was just proud of the overall effort. You know, we didn't give up there at the end," he said.
He said both Owens and Barton played with sprained ankles.
"Hayden and Derynn were both hurt from last week and some of those runs Hayden would have broke, so would have Derynn," he said. "They both have sprained ankles but they played with them. And Hayden, he would have broke some of those runs. He couldn't accelerate like he could weeks before, so hopefully next week it'll be almost right. And then Derynn will too. But our kids battled man. I was proud of them."
The Wolves will travel to Siloam Springs Friday while the Bombers host Russellville.