“They stuffed our doggone power set, then the interception put them up so we had to go back to ‘Plan A,’” said Polk assistant coach Larry Davis after the Wildcats defeated the Panthers 14-13 at the buzzer. “And it worked.”
Polk fell behind 7-0 after a fumble on the first snap and an interception on the Wildcats’ second pass of the game set the Panthers up at the Polk 23. Lenior City quickly moved to the 3-yard line and tossed it to the end zone two plays later.
“We thought we could line up and go at them — and we could have but we didn’t. We fumbled the first snap and that put us in a hole. But, we came back. That’s the secret, coming back,” said Davis.
The Wildcats came right back after starting on their own 30 and moved the ball behind the running of Derrick Saxe to the Panthers’ 35. From there, quarterback Alex Akins rolled out to the left, tucked the ball and avoided the Lenior City pursuit for Polk’s first score of the night. Saxe made it 8-7 with the 2-point conversion up the middle.
The Panthers came back on the first play of their next possession and tagged the Wildcats with a 70-yard TD strike to go up 13-8 with 2:29 left to play.
Polk reached deep into its bag of tricks with the continuous clock ticking away and pulled a 37-yard gain out of their sleeve with an Akins pass to Chris Moses, who flipped the ball to a trailing Chase Mull who hugged the sideline to the Lenoir City 30.
With seconds on the clock, Akins again dropped back and found Mull again behind the Panther’s secondary. The senior running back hauled in the spiral and beat the defense to the goal line as the clock struck zero giving the Wildcats the 14-13 win.
“I thought of it,” Davis said of the flea-flicker with a mischievous grin. “I said, ‘We’ve got to do something.’ And that gave us what we needed. I thought he (Mull) scored, I couldn’t see it. They were expecting the run, I believe, with Saxe pounding up the middle. That opened up the throw.”
“We’ve got to block on the power set and I hope we will. I know we will. We’ll make it work.”
Polk County will open the regular season Friday with a trip to Bear Stadium to face Class 6A Bradley Central.