KINGMAN - The clash of two teams hungry for their first AIA playoff appearance fittingly came down to a thrilling 14-8 overtime victory Friday night, secured by the staunch defense of Lee Williams High School.
Playing at home, the Volunteers stuffed the running game of Kingman Academy from the 10-yard line and broke up a pass play on a controversial pass interference call. That gave the Tigers five downs to score, but the final pass attempt fell incomplete in the corner of the end zone, and a jubilant Lee Williams crowd swarmed the field in celebration.
"That's what high school football is all about," Kingman Academy first-year head coach Dan Stroup said. "It's one of those things where we had an opportunity to win. I think some of the officiating played into it. I did not like the officiating. But we did have opportunities in the fourth quarter and in sudden death."
Lee Williams (7-3 overall, 3-2 section) advances to the AIA Division V playoffs in just its second year of varsity football. The Volunteers play at Round Valley at 7 p.m. Friday.
Kingman Academy (6-4, 4-1) finished strong, winning four of its final five games, and also made the playoffs as the No. 15-seeded team in the section. Teams ranked higher than Kingman Academy lost on Friday, which left the Tigers unchanged in their ranking. They travel to No. 2-ranked Tempe Prep.
Dallas Morgan, the Volunteers' leading rusher and scorer, carried twice in overtime from the 10-yard line, gaining five yards on his first attempt and battling his way across the goal line on his next run. The point-after pass attempt failed, making it crucial for Lee Williams to stop the Academy on its possession.
"We played the defense our coaches taught us," said Vols' Landon Kramer, who switched from his normal defensive end position to cornerback to cover the Tigers' biggest threat, 6-6 senior wide receiver Chris Pfieffer. "They thought I could help in the secondary and help the safety and linebacker."
Kramer (6-1, 180) shut down his lanky opponent, holding Pfieffer to one catch for a first down in the second half. He was called for pass interference on a double team in overtime that drew a chorus of comments from Lee Williams supporters.
Another controversial pass interference call occurred in the first half on a ball well overthrown by Tigers' quarterback Will Herbine.
"We'll get better calls next time," Kramer said.
After a scoreless first quarter that zoomed by in just over the regulation 12 minutes, Lee Williams scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Morgan off right tackle. Quarterback Braxton Burgess completed a 2-point conversion pass to Kramer for an 8-0 halftime lead.
The Tigers owned the third quarter. Backup quarterback Kekoa Makaiwi-Stroup completed a long pass to Pfieffer and fullback Chy Banda carried the ball down to the 2-yard line before the Tigers were slapped with two 15-yard penalties for blocking below the knees and for unsportsmanlike conduct, forcing them to punt.
Kingman Academy tied the game with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard keeper by Herbine and 2-point conversion run by Banda.
Kingman Academy outgained Lee Williams 260 yards to 156 yards. Herbine completed three of six passes for 44 yards and Makaiwi-Stroup was 3-for-9 for 76 yards. Jordan McDowell-Seybert carried eight times for 39 yards, Banda carried eight times for 36 yards and Clayton Holloway gained 28 yards on four carries.
For Lee Williams, Morgan led the rushing game with 59 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Jason Ruiz ran 10 times for 36 yards before going down with an ankle injury just before halftime. Fullback Andrew Davis tacked on 37 yards on six carries.
The passing game wasn't much to trumpet, but it was effective. Burgess was 4-for-7 passing and Kramer made a nice catch while getting hit for one of his two receptions.
Volunteers' defensive back Russel Cottrel came up with a fumble recovery that thwarted what could have been a winning drive for Kingman Academy late in the fourth quarter.