It was the fourth quarter. Mills had just gone up two scores after a 94-yard touchdown run by Little Rock Mills’ Calen Peters.
On the outside looking in, the Bears appeared wounded.
Sylvan Hills’ coach Jim Withrow’s message was clear, concise, and to the point.
“Keep playing,” Withrow said.
The Bears were moving the ball well and getting into the end zone. Earlier in the game, Doss had thrown touchdown passes to Kylan Wade and Nathan Thomas. Clemmons had also rushed for a 43-yard score, the first of two Bears’ TDs in the final five minutes.
There was a moment, however, that the outcome looked bleak. After Mills took a 36-23 lead on Peters’ run, the Bears drove down the field to the three, but a dropped pass in the end zone by Kylan Wade on fourth down made a comeback a bit more unlikely.
“He came to me and said ‘Throw it to me again and I’ll catch it’,” Withrow said.
That’s exactly what he did.
With just under two and a half minutes to play, Doss found Wade again and Wade was true to his word catching a 26-yard touchdown pass. The extra point and a defensive stand gave the Bears the 37-36 win.
Withrow admitted to the magnitude of the game for the Bears.
“Every game we win makes it bigger,” Withrow said.
The two teams have an undeniable connection to each other starting with Withrow who spent seven seasons as Comets’ coach before leaving for Sylvan Hills in 2007. His former assistant Patrick Russell stands on the Comets’ sidelines today.
The two teams camped together in the summer, and Withrow called the two teams very closely related as far as talent.
Mills is the only team in the 5A-Central to not run a spread offensive scheme, and until Friday was undefeated.
Now Sylvan Hills continues the journey toward a conference title, as Jacksonville is next on the slate.
Blowout losses to Cabot and Benton mar the Red Devils’ record. They defeated Little Rock McClellan 31-6 on Friday.
Withrow urged caution in judging the Red Devils based on their opponents.
“Cabot is a good team, I’ve been there and done that,” Withrow said. “I’m not sure what Benton has done, but Jacksonville is still a good team.”
The Bears remain unbeaten in league play. A win on Friday in front of games against the likes of McClellan, North Pulaski and Helena-West Helena poses a favorable schedule leading up to the regular season finale against Pulaski Academy.
If the Bears take care of business, that game could be for a conference title.