After missing from 40 and 35 yards in regulation, Blaine Halvorson redeemed himself in overtime Friday night at Henderson Stadium.
Halvorson’s 32-yard field goal at the end of overtime gave Westside an emotional 24-21 victory over Central, which was trying to become the first Bibb County team to defeat Westside since the program went varsity in 1998.
“That’s one thing about Blaine, we always believe in him,” Westside head coach Spoon Risper said. “When we have to call on him, we never doubt him. He missed two (Friday), but the kids got behind him. I had total confidence in him, and he made the kick. I’m proud of him.”
The crowd at Henderson Stadium -- it was well more than half full -- was treated to the closest game ever played in the series. The opener in 1998 was a three-point win by Westside, but that game finished in regulation.
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Central quarterback Derrick Evans was held without any passing yards in the first half, but a 10-yarder to Ivory Childers with 7:10 to go gave the Chargers a 21-14 lead and an opening to break Westside’s stranglehold on the county and claim the upper hand in GHSA Region 2-AAA.
But Westside, which lost leading rusher Donta Pate early in the second half to an apparent leg injury, kept at it. The Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 Region 2-AAA) went on a 12-play, 80-yard drive, recording three third-down conversions en route to Lakelvin Clark’s 21-yard touchdown with 3:13 to go.
Central (2-2, 1-1) started its next possession at its 43 but went three-and-out. A 39-yard punt with an illegal block call put Westside at its own 10 with 1:19 to go.
The Seminoles almost went the distance to win it in regulation. Clark, who picked up the slack for Pate, had four carries for 36 yards in the final drive, finishing with 94 yards on 16 carries for the game.
“Lakelvin is a sophomore who can do a lot of things, run between tackles, bounce it outside,” Risper said. “I’m proud of him for carrying us on his back in the latter portion of the game.”
A 28-yard pass from Savion Knowlton to Steve Dolphus in the waning seconds put the ball at the Central 17. The clock operator didn’t stop the clock for the first down, so Westside was able to line up for a 35-yard field goal attempt despite not having any timeouts as the officials put three seconds on the scoreboard.
Halvorson’s kick was oh-so-close, falling just short and wide. Westside’s players sprinted on the field in celebration before being corralled by their coaching staff as the game headed into overtime.
Central kept the ball on the ground in its half of the overtime. Antonio Sanders Jr. (22 carries, 138 yards) had gains of 3 and 2 yards, then Evans ran for 4 yards to set up a fourth-and-1 at the Westside 6.
The Chargers went to Evans for a keeper up the right side of the line, but the senior quarterback failed to reach the first-down marker.
Westside had two runs for no gain and an incompletion prior to Halvorson’s game-winner.
“What a great win,” Risper said.
Evans was held to a season low 69 passing yards, completing 4-of-9 as he faced significant pressure all night. He averaged 249 yards per contest entering Friday’s game.
Knowlton completed 14-of-26 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown.