The Chiefs knew the Trojans would be tough opponents and the Trojans knew the same.
Both were right in what ended up being a battle of inches in overtime.
The Trojans struck first with a five-yard touchdown run by Jay Johnson to take a 6-0 lead, but the Chiefs retaliated on the next play as J.C. Buchanan ran back the Bruce kickoff 92 yards to tie the score at 6-6.
The Chieftain defense held the Trojans to a three-and-out and the Okolona boys mounted another attack that put them and fourth-and-four to close the first quarter.
They completed the drive on the first play of the second quarter as Jacolbi Heard hit Dequin Babbit for a four-yard TD pass and Babbit’s point after attempt was good for a 13-6 lead.
But the Trojans tied the game again, going for it on fourth-and-nine and getting it as Donta Armstrong fired a pass to Cartez Welch for a 14-yard TD and Tyler Donovan’s kick was good.
Both teams knocked heads through the third with neither getting across the goal line until the final seconds when Heard connected with Rod Jones on a 71-yard pass to set up Terry Rogers on a six-yard TD run.
Fourth quarter frenzy
The final quarter opened with both teams playing full steam and the scoring took off in earnest.
Following Jones’ TD, Bruce’s Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 84-yards back for a TD and Donvoan put the Trojans up 20-19 on the PAT.
Five plays later, Heard pushed across from four-yards out, then hit Buchanan for the conversion and a 27-20 Chieftain lead.
Bruce tacked on two more TD in the fourth from Johnson’s 31-yard run and Armstrong’s one-yard push and the Chiefs matched them with a 58-yard TD pass from Heard to Jones to send the game into overtime.
The Chiefs took their turn on the ten with Babbit gaining four yards and Heard adding one to set up Buchanan for a five-yard TD rush. Heard’s conversion pass to Babbit was good for a 41-33 lead.
The Trojans’ Armstrong faked to Johnson on third down and ran in the TD, but the conversion was crucial to extending the game.
Both teams dug in for the final stand and when the dust cleared, Johnson was stopped less than a yard away from the goal line, giving the Chiefs the 41-39 win.
Next game that tough again
“It was back and forth,” said Okolona coach Jack Clark. “A very exciting football game.”
With one game left on the regular schedule, the possibilities for playoff positions have not been finalized.
The Chiefs (2-1) will face the Calhoun City Wildcats (3-1) Friday night in their final division game, while Bruce (2-2) has finished their regular schedule.
Still in the mix are Eupora (1-3) and East Webster (0-3) who will face each other in a county rivalry game Friday.
“Win or lose, there are a lot of different ways (playoffs can shape up),” Clark said. “A lot of things could happen. Calhoun City, Bruce and us are definitely in, but there’s no guarantee how, where we’ll be in.”
Clark is expecting another tough battle Friday with the Wildcats coming to town.
“Their kids will be excited about the possibility of winning district,” Clark said. “But our kids will be too.”
He said the game plan is to put their heads down and play ball.
“That’s it,” Clark said. “This late in the year, you are who you are. We put it on the kids, hope we make some plays and give ourselves some opportunities.”