Trailing by six early in the fourth quarter, Quitman) rallied with two unanswered scores to pull out a 36-30 win over the Junior Panthers in a 5-2A Conference showdown on Thursday in Magnet Cove.
With Magnet Cove threatening late, Quitman linebacker Kyler Kindle intercepted a pass to preserve the victory as the Junior Bulldogs improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in league play with their lone loss coming to 5A Morrilton.
After quarterback Trey McGhee tied the game on a 13-yard touchdown run, the Jr. Bulldogs executed an onside kick to regain possession as Michael Lewis bounced the ball over the head of a Jr. Panther and
Garrett Kennedy pounced on the loose ball at the Magnet Cove 44.
Four plays later, on fourth and 1, McGhee kept on a read option around right end, dashing 34 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Quitman struck quick on its first possession. Following an 18-yard run by Nathan Henderson, McGhee outran Magnet Cove for a 57-yard touchdown only 30 seconds into the game.
Magnet Cove answered with a 7-play, 65-yard scoring drive, plus two-point conversion, which game the Jr. Panthers an 8-6 lead with 4:21 left in the opening quarter.
Quitman's Tyler Stracner recovered a fumble to set up Quitman's next score, which came when McGhee hooked up with receiver Dyllan Locke, who caught the pass in stride for a 22-yard touchdown with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Linebacker Eli Peck picked off a pass to stop Magnet Cove deep in Quitman territory and the Jr. Bulldogs extended their lead with a 10-play, 78-yard scoring drive that started with a 14-yard run by Henderson.
On third and 4, the Jr. Bulldogs moved into Magnet Cove territory on an 11-yard run by McGhee, which combined with a facemask penalty, gave Quitman a first down at the Jr. Panther 37.
Quitman pounded out another first down behind the powerful running of Peck then McGhee hit Locke for 11 yards, setting up first down at the Jr. Panther 12.
On second and goal, Peck barreled into the end zone from a yard out as the Jr. Bulldogs took an 18-8 lead, which shrunk to two after Magnet Cove answered with a touchdown late in the first half.
Magnet Cove took the lead at 22-18 with 4:12 left in the third quarter before Quitman responded with an 8-play, 67-yard scoring drive. Facing a fourth and 5 from the Jr. Panther 20, McGhee found Henderson, who made a spectacular grab in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, giving the Jr. Bulldogs a 24-22 lead late in the third quarter.
The Jr. Panthers jumped back in front behind a 4-play, 58-yard scoring drive early in the fourth quarter but Quitman refused to give in, countering with two straight scores to secure the victory.
Page 2 of 2 - McGhee ran 17 times for 275 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 5 of 11 pass attempts for 74 yards and two more scores.
Locke led Quitman's receivers with three receptions for 40 yards and Peck paced the Jr. Bulldogs' ground attack, rushing eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown. Henderson added a 30-yard run, while making two catches for 34 yards.
Peck led Quitman's defense with eight tackles, while defensive tackle Abisai Quoris and Henderson each collected seven stops.
The first place Jr. Bulldogs host Conway Christian on Thursday at 7 p.m.
(Editor's note: Stats and information courtesy of Quitman Football Foundation's Dan Lichoff.)