Prescott quarterback Ryan Johnson had what a Booneville fan would tell you was not one, nor two, but three lucky, or at least fortuitous outcomes throwing the football Saturday night at Bearcat Stadium.
Cam Brasher made sure it wasn’t four by intercepting Johnson at the Bearcat goal line with :08 to play, securing a 34-31 Bearcat win over the Curley Wolves that sends the Bearcats (14-0) to the Class 3A state title game at War Memorial Stadium.
After Marcus Nichols dropped Johnson at the 5, after just a 1-yard gain on second down, Prescott (12-2) took its final time out.
Then Johnson rolled to his right while Cameron Cox, the inside receiver of a tight twin set on the left side of the formation, made his way across the defense.
Brasher picked Cox up in the middle of the field and stepped in front of the receiver at the goal line and picked off his second pass of the playoffs.
Early on the passing game was good to Johnson, Cox and the Curley Wolves.
On a third-and-12 from the Bearcat 44 Johnson heaved a pass that Michael Hesson – Hesson had broken up a second down throw – slapped away.
However, the ball hung in the air and Derriun Thompson snagged it out of the air and ran for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead after the Luis Rabadan point after kick.
It took the Bearcats just five plays to answer. Carson Ray carried for five, 20 and 11 for the touchdown and with Gavin Kent’s PAT it was 7-7 with 8:56 left in the first quarter.
Ray would get comfortable in the end zone, scoring on four of his 27 carries for 127 yards.
Prescott’s second possession resulted in a Rabadan 32-yard field goal. The Curley Wolves had been flagged for holding and Brasher got to Johnson for just a 1-yard gain on second down before Anthony McKesson and Noah Reyes took the quarterback down for a 3-yard loss on third down.
Booneville’s second possession ended in a turnover on downs at the Curley Wolf 12 after a negative yardage play, a false start penalty, and an incomplete pass as Evan Schlinker was trying to hit Reyes on fourth down.
After Thompson got three yards, Brasher had a tackle for a 1-yard loss and Ian Suttles stayed with Cox on third down forcing what would be the game’s only punt, giving the Bearcats the ball back at the Prescott 46 with 9:52 left in the first half.
After Schlinker and Ray got 16 yards a holding penalty had the Bearcats in a first-and-21. Four rushing plays later the Bearcats had a fresh set of downs.
Andrew Robertson picked up the first down, getting three more than the five he needed, despite first contact being behind the line of scrimmage.
Robertson, who converted another fourth down, getting eight when he needed four, proved difficult to tackle, evading Prescott for 148 yards on 16 carries.
After the second conversion Ray ran for 2 and then 1 and the touchdown for the first Bearcat lead, 14-10.
It was the first of seven lead changes.
Although only 2:52 remained until halftime, the second would come quickly.
A diving, 34-yard catch by Keonte Franklin got the Curley Wolves to the Bearcat 8 and two plays later Alex George scored to make it 17-14 with 44 seconds left in the half.
Johnson was 6-of-9 passing, but the catches covered 184 yards. He also ran 19 times for 100 yards.
Having deferred their option to start the game the Bearcats had the ball first in the second half.
Starting from their 39, Booneville kept the football for 13 plays and 6:24, going back on top when Schlinker pulled the ball from Ray and went six yards for a touchdown. Kent’s PAT try was wide left but the Bearcats led 20-17.
Schlinker ran nine times for 51 yards in the game.
Prescott started their first second half possession with another improbably catch, this one covering 54 yards by Cox, that set up George’s second touchdown, a 2-yard run with 4:09 left in the third quarter and it was 24-20.
It took the Bearcats seven plays to answer. Schlinker converted a third-and-7 and Robertson had a 25 yard run but it was Ray going 19 yards for the touchdown to make it 27-24 with 41 seconds left in the third quarter.
On its next drive Prescott converted a fourth-and-inches at the Bearcat 13 then scored two plays later on a 2-yard run by Thompson and it was 31-27 in Prescott’s favor.
The Bearcats had 8:12 left and 61 yards to go after the kickoff.
Hesson got five, Schlinker one and Robertson the four needed for a first down. Ray got one, Robertson four and Ray fumbled on third down but Sammy Haynes got it back for the Bearcats. Ray got five on fourth down for another first.
Robertson got one, Ray got five and Robertson darted and dodged his way for 28 yards to the Prescott 4.
Ray got half the distance on first down and after a Bearcat time out, the other half to make it 34-31 with 2:03 left.
Prescott’s first three plays after the kickoff were 13 yards by Johnson, eight by Thompson and 24 more by Johnson, inducing a Bearcat time out with the Curley Wolves at their 25.
Prescott took a time out facing third-and-4 from the 19 and Thompson got 10. After he got three on first and goal, Prescott took its second time out.
Nichols made the second down play and Brasher got the interception for the win.