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Lancaster High School football coach Bennie McMurray rolled the dice and came up a Shaq Williams’ game-winning two-point conversion plunge in a 29-28 Region III-AAAA overtime win over Rock Hill on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Williams, with LHS down 28-21 in the OT, hit senior running back Brandon Reese on a clutch third down, 13-yard touchdown pass to pull the Bruins close, 28-27.
“Lady luck hadn’t smiled on us the last two weeks, so I figured our fortunes were due a change,” said McMurray of his decision to go for the OT win. “There was no need to prolong it, but settle it then, so we rolled the dice.”
In the two weeks prior, Lancaster, 4-3, 1-0, had lost back-to-back road games on the final snap, including a 24-21 double overtime loss to Blythewood as Reese’s possible game-tying 46-yard field goal fell short a week ago.
On the game-winning play Friday night, Williams, the talented LHS senior quarterback, rolled right and dove in for the game-winning two-point conversion to cap the thrilling comeback victory.
“We had them outnumbered to the weak side (right) and it was just do-or-die,” Williams said. “There was one man to beat and I had three blockers. I didn’t have far to go and I just dove in there.”
Williams’ end zone plunge capped an improbable comeback after LHS faced a 21-6 second-half deficit.
“A mark of a good team is to keep fighting even when you’re down,” McMurray noted. “We kept fighting, scratching and clawing in the face of adversity and tough odds.”
The Bruins, coming out of the second half, battled back to slice into the Bearcats’ lead.
Williams, capping a four-play, 71-yard drive, hit receiver Kaderrious Jackson on a 16-yard scoring pass to pull LHS with eight, 21-13, after Reese nailed the extra point. Jackson, who had a 23-yard catch to open the drive, had two receptions for 39-yards in the scoring march.
Early in the final period after the Bruins’ defense stopped Rock Hill on a crucial fourth-and-one at the LHS 10, Lancaster took over and went 90 yards in nine plays, with Williams blasting in from two yards out to pull LHS close, 21-19, with 7:10 to play.
The surging Bruins converted 2 third downs in the drive and Reese, a snap prior to Williams’ scoring run, dashed 24 yards to set up the score.
On the conversion, the Bruins elected to go for two, and Williams, on a keeper similar to what he scored on to win the game in OT, swept to his left. Unlike the game-winning conversion play, he met a host of Bearcats’ defenders and retreated back to the area of the RHHS 20-yard line.
At that point, Williams, in hopes of salvaging the play, deftly reversed his field and dashed for corner of the end zone and scored the two points to knot the game at 21-all with 7:10 left.
“You don’t coach that,” McMurray said. “It was all instinct and heart. Big-time players make big-time plays. He used his athletic ability to make the play.”
Lancaster was forced to battle from the early going as the Bearcats built a 14-0 first-half lead. Bearcats’ quarterback Kenterius Hinton’s six-yard scoring run capped a 12-play, 80-yard drive to give Rock Hill a 7-0 lead with 4:02 left in the first period.
Hinton put the Bearcats up 14-0 with a three-yard run to end a nine-play, 58-yard touchdown march with 11:22 before halftime.
Lancaster, making the most of Darius Truesdale’s fumble recovery at the Bruins’ 39, finally answered the visitors with a crucial 61-yard TD drive.
Williams’ six-yard touchdown run cut Rock Hill’s lead to 14-6 after the extra point was blocked.
Just before the half, the Bearcats went 62 yards, with Hinton blasting in from a yard out. John David Raad drilled his third extra point for a seemingly safe 21-6 lead with 22.5 seconds left before the break.
In the second half, the determined Bruins clawed their way back to force the overtime.
Rock Hill, on offense first in overtime, struck in a flash as Hinton hit Jamel Jones from 10-yards out on a nifty fade on the opening play for a 28-21 lead after Raad’s kick.
The Bruins, on their overtime possession, had a dismal start, losing three yards on the first two snaps to force LHS to a do-or-die play.
Williams, on third down, rolled right and spotted Reese in the end zone where he made a juggling grab to pull the Bruins within one, 28-27.
On the conversion, Williams, again rolled right and pushed forward for the winning points.
“We couldn’t stop the quarterback in the second half,” Rock Hill coach Joe Montgomery said. “On the quarterback sweep on the conversion, Williams made a great play.”
“Shaq made a great read and he plays with a big heart,” McMurray said. “That combination got us two points and a big win.”
Contact sports editor Robert Howey at 283-1157