PONDER — In heartbreaking fashion, the Ponder Lions fell to Callisburg 43-41 in double overtime Friday night.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight against a good team,” Ponder head coach Russ Phillips said. “We’ll never quit on our kids and they will never quit either.”
Reid Sanders had a big game, accumulating 329 passing yards and four total touchdowns for the Lions. Nick King and Tanner Yeager had seven receptions apiece in the loss.
“They battled extremely hard,” continued Phillips. “But we just came up a little short.”
It was a back-and-forth throughout the game. Ponder held a slim 21-20 lead at halftime. Callisburg took advantage of a Ponder fumble in the third quarter that resulted in the Wildcats taking a 27-21 lead as Clay McKenzie scored on a 1-yard plunge with 9:55 left in the third.
It stayed that way until the 8:16 mark of the fourth quarter, when Sanders connected with Christian Worthington on a 24-yard scoring strike, but Ponder’s extra point kick was blocked and the game was knotted at 27-27.
Both defensive units came up with key plays in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime.
Ponder opened overtime with the ball, catching the defense off guard when Sanders found Sooter on the wheel route for the score. The extra point snap was botched, but the Lions stayed calm. Yeager dumped it off to Dylan Nichelson, who dove in for the 2-point conversion.
The Wildcats remained poised and struck back. Rheyce Childress found Austin Caldwell alone in the end zone. On the conversion, Tinney escaped to the outside to score, tying the game 35-35.
Tinney put the Wildcats into the lead in the second overtime period and also ran in the 2-point conversion to take a 43-35 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Sanders connected with a streaking King for a 20-yard touchdown, but the Callisburg defense came up big on the 2-point conversion attempt as Sanders was sacked.
The loss drops Ponder to 2-6 for the year and 0-4 in district play. Callisburg is now 6-1 and 1-1 in district.
Callisburg 43, Ponder 41 (2OT)
P — Reid Sanders 4 run (Coleman James kick), 8:56
C — Clay McKenzie 13 pass to Dakota Tinney (McKenzie kick), 4:43
P — Sanders 18 pass to Nick King (James kick), 2:03
C — Rheyce Childress 33 pass to Tinney (McKenzie kick), 0:38
C — Tinney 4 run (kick no good), 4:53
P — Sanders 22 pass to Brennan Sooter (James kick), 0:27
C — McKenzie 1 run (McKenzie kick), 9:55
P — Sanders 24 pass to Christian Worthington (kick blocked), 8:16
P — Sanders 14 pass to Sooter (2-point conversion good)
C — Childress 14 pass to Austin Caldwell (2-point conversion good)
C — Tinney 1 run (2-point conversion good)
P — Sanders 20 pass to King (conversion failed)
Rushing — C: Clay McKenzie 16-79, Dakota Tinney 14-104, Rheyce Childress 10-40; P: Brennan Sooter 16-49, Reid Sanders 11-(-9), Trey Dunlap 1-3
Passing — C: Rheyce Childress 8-10 148, Clay McKenzie 1-7 13; P: Reid Sanders 27-46 329
Receiving — C: Dakota Tinney 3-62, Clay McKenzie 3-62, Kyle Rochelle 2-19, Dusty Taylor 1-18; P: Nick King 7-84, Tanner Yeager 7-62, Brennan Sooter 5-84, Christian Worthington 5-46, Dylan Nichelson 2-38, Austin Leveridge 1-25