The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Prep Football: Harrisburg wins nail biter over Red Devils

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  • Murphysboro almost pulled it off on Friday night, with the key word being, "almost."
    The Red Devils took a 25-21 lead over Harrisburg with 4:16 remaining in the game, but the Bulldogs answered and scored with 16 seconds left to claim a 28-25 victory in the SIRR Ohio Division opener for both teams.
    "We fought hard all the way to the end,'' Murphysboro coach Gary Carter said. "We keep doing that and we're going to win some games down the road."
    The heart breaker for the Red Devils was the second time in the last three weeks they had lost a game in the waning minutes or seconds.
    "You've got to beat people to get respect,'' Carter said of his team. "I know Harrisburg knows they were in a game. But as far as getting respect, we're still 1-3."
    The Bulldogs (3-1) found themselves in a hole a little over two minutes into the game after Kane Wilson hauled in a pass from Zach Evans and raced 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Red Devils a 6-0 lead.
    Harrisburg answered that score with one of its own, going on an eight play, 58-yard drive to take the lead with 6:03 left in the first period.
    The Bulldogs scored when Ryne Roper found Dakota Upchurch in the end zone on a 4th-and-goal play from the Murphysboro seven-yard line.
    Harrisburg added to its lead just a little over a minute later, as Upchurch intercepted a pass and rumbled 50 yards for a score at the 4:54 mark on the first quarter. Roper's extra point kick gave the Bulldogs a 14-6 advantage.
    It stayed that way until late in the second quarter.
    Harrisburg had the ball at the Murphysboro 33 before fumbling the football. Murphysboro's Kevin Gude scooped up the loose ball and race 60 yards for the touchdown, which made it 14-12.
    The Bulldogs would threaten on their final possession of the first half before turning the ball over on downs with 18 ticks left on the first half clock.
    Harrisburg would turn it over on downs to start the second, though. Instead, the Bulldogs went 75 yards on 12 plays to go up, 21-12. Tyler Bebout capped the drive with a one-yard run with 5:07 left in the third quarter.
    Murphysboro was still trailing by the same score early in the fourth period before Diamante Bradley broke free for a 50-yard touchdown pass to pull the Red Devils to within three points at 21-18 with 9:45 remaining in the game.
    Harrisburg was forced to punt on its next possession, and Roper pinned the Red Devils deep in their own territory at the 8.
    Bradley gave Murphysboro some breathing room, though, when he took a handoff on 2nd-and-4 and churned 36 yards before getting tackled.
    Page 2 of 2 - Aeian then gained seven yards to the Bulldog 43, but Harrisburg dropped Bradley for a five-yard loss on second down to bring up 3rd-and-8 for the Red Devils.
    Facing an almost do-or-die situation, Murphysboro went to the air, and Evans found Tylon Kerrens open on the far sideline. Kerrens hauled in the pass, then outran the defense into the end zone. Wilson would add the extra point, and Murphysboro found itself with a 25-21 advantage with 4:16 left in the contest.
    The Bulldogs got the ball at their own 35 to begin their final drive, and they marched their way down the field without throwing the football.
    Harrisburg did have to convert two third down plays during the drive, including Capel Henshaw's six-yard gain for a first down when the Bulldogs were facing 3rd-and-5 from the Murphysboro 19-yard line.
    Dylan Hathway gained two yards on the next play, and Harrisburg then called its final timeout.
    Following the break in the action, Hathway rumbled to the Murphysboro three-yard line, and the Bulldogs hurried up, got to the line, and Hathway got the ball again and broke outside and scored from three yards out to put Harrisburg ahead for good.
    Harrisburg was able to march the ball down the field using a variety of running plays. When Murphysboro would stack the box, the Bulldogs went to the outside.
    "They started running outside a little bit,'' Carter said. "We were kind of packing it in trying to stop the run. We were defending their formation."
    With very little time left on the clock, the Red Devils threw a pass to Bradley as time expired. He gained 17 yards on the play and the game appeared to come to an end.
    However, Harrisburg was flagged for a face mask penalty on the play, so Murphysboro got one more untimed play, which turned out to be a 20-yard gain by Evans before he was ran out of bounds.
    Evans had a nice game through the air, competing seven passes for 164 yards. Bradley did the work on the ground for the Red Devils, compiling 129 yards on just 14 carries.
    Hathaway paced Harrisburg, rushing for 115 yards on 24 tries. Roper was 4-for-11 for 54 yards through the air.
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