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DOWN TO THE WIRE: Bob Jones clinches Region 8 title with last minute drive

Bob Jones Head Coach Kevin Rose talks to his players after their 17-13 win over Austin. Photos by www.jeffabbottphoto.com.

Bob Jones won their fourth straight Region 8 Championship on Friday.

Trying to escape two defenders in the backfield, Chris Sparkman tried to get one last pass off before time expired.

But for Austin High quarterback, there was no escaping the pressure.

While being dragged down by two Bob Jones defenders, Sparkman launched a last-ditch effort that landed in the hands of an offensive lineman, who then illegally lateraled the ball to a teammate after time had expired, sending Bob Jones to a fifth straight Class 6A, Region 8 title with a 17-13 win Friday night.

The win for the Patriots gives Bob Jones their fourth Region 8 Championship in a row and means they will be playing at home for the first round of playoffs..

“Bob Jones made the plays they needed to get the win,” Austin coach Jeremy Perkins said. “You’ve got to tip your hat to them. They played a heck of a ballgame, and I think we played good. It’s just tough losing side of a game like this.”

A win appeared to be within Austin’s grasp during the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Philip Corlew kicked a 30-yard field goal with 1:47 remaining, and the Black Bears owned a three-point cushion with momentum on their side.

But Bob Jones (7-2) quickly snatched that away.

Quarterback Trey Bates orchestrated Bob Jones’ two-minute offense to near perfection. The Bob Jones quarterback completed a couple of tough passes, including a 21-yard completion in a fourth-and-long situation, sending the Patriots down the field in a matter of seconds.

Bates capped the seven-play drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Keith Rogers to give Bob Jones the lead with 14.7 seconds remaining on the clock.

“We practice two-minute every day at practice against our No. 1 defense, so our guys know what to do,” Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose said. “The plays that we ran, those were the same five or six that we run every day in practice, so there was no panic from our guys whatsoever.”

All of the fireworks came late in the fourth quarter. With the exception of one big play, a long run by Wright in the second quarter, Austin held Bob Jones’ offense in check for most of the night.

Wright finished with 103 total yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 88 yards, including a 3-yard score.

Austin appeared to have momentum on its side in the second half. On the Black Bears’ first series of the half, Sparkman completed a 56-yard pass to Malique Elliott, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run from Ashton Kracke that gave Austin a 10-7 lead.

But Bob Jones saved its best for last, coming from behind with a thrilling finish that prompted hundreds of students to rush the field at Madison City Schools Stadium after the final seconds ticked off the clock.

“We had to overcome so much to get here,” Rose said. “After our loss to Hazel Green, everyone left us hanging in the wind. But us, in our locker room, we said all along that we were going to come back and win the region. That’s a tribute to our kids.”

From our news partner, The Decatur Daily.