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West Brunswick scored two touchdowns in the final 6 minutes, 12 seconds and Davonte Hewett intercepted a pass in the end zone in the final seconds as the Trojans beat Corinth Holders 44-37 in a first-round game of the state football playoffs.
The victory in mild weather Friday night, Nov. 15, at M.H Rourk Stadium before a sparse crowd by playoff standards advanced the No. 5 seed Trojans (4-7) to a second-round game Friday, Nov. 22, at No. 4 seed Wilson Hunt (9-3).
The Trojans trailed 37-30 and faced third-and-22 when quarterback Dylan Darguzas scrambled — a Pirate defender tugged on the bottom of Darguzas’ jersey — and completed a 41-yard pass to unguarded junior receiver Dylan Howard at the 29, near the Pirate sideline.
“He hit me in the face,” Darguzas said about the scramble. “I thought I was down. I didn’t stop my feet and kept running. And it happened. It worked.”
Four plays later, on fourth and 7, Darguzas completed a 26-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Hunter Ashburn, who caught the ball in stride at the goal line.
“It was awesome,” Ashburn said. “I told him to throw me the ball and I caught it for a touchdown.”
Junior kicker Ethan Prevatte’s extra point tied the score 37-37 with 6:12 left.
West’s defense stopped the Pirates on fourth-and-1 at the Pirate 43 with 3:47 left. On the Trojans’ ensuing possession, Darguzas converted a fourth down at the 35 and Ashburn gained 10 yards to the 25. On the next play, Darguzas scored.
“It felt great getting into the end zone,” he said. “That’s my corner over there.”
Prevatte’s extra point gave West a 44-37 lead with 88 seconds left.
The Pirates had one more possession to force overtime, and West appeared to have clinched the victory when it sacked the Pirate quarterback at the West 45. But a pass gained yardage to the West 13 with 29.5 seconds left. Two plays later, from the West 10, the Pirates attempted another pass to a receiver taller than 5-foot-9 Hewett, but he leaped in front of the receiver and intercepted the pas with 13.5 seconds left, sending the Trojans to the second round of the playoffs.
“It feels great, it really does,” said Hewett, a junior. “I did what I had to do, and I ended up with a great one. I expected something big, and I came out on top.”
“There are things in the film that we’ll point to guys making plays when they had to,” said West coach Scott Frazier, pointing to Hewett. “We talk about having a next-play attitude. The guy who epitomizes that — got beat a couple of times — but he made the play when it counted.”
The first half ended 23-23.
West took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Connor Johnston and a 30-yard interception return by Shermonde Fulwood.
The Pirates scored on their third possession on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 3:21 left in the quarter.
After a West punt, the Pirates scored on a 55-yard run by their quarterback for a 14-10 lead with 2:02 left in the quarter.
Sean Hewett matched that score when he returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Prevatte’s second extra point of the quarter gave the Trojans a 17-14 lead with 1:49 left.
West extended the lead when Darguzas scored from inside the 1 with 7:19 left in the half. The scored ended a 16-play drive of 60 yards.
An interception set up the Pirates’ only touchdown of the second quarter, a 28-yard pass with 2:39 left.
After forcing a West punt with 63 seconds left, the Pirates took over at their 49. A 27-yard pass helped set up a 34-yard field goal with 22.6 seconds left, and that tied the score 23-23.
The Trojans scored on their first possession of the third quarter. On third down at the 26, Darguzas shook off a tackle and completed a pass to sophomore receiver Quinlyn Moore, who caught the ball near the goal line on the Trojan side of the field.
“It was a scramble drill,” Moore said. “I saw the quarterback running. It was a curl to me. I saw the corner cheat up. (Dylan) just threw it over the top of his head. I kept my focus. I was catching that ball.”
Prevatte’s extra point gave West a 30-23 lead with 6:06 left.
The Pirates tied the score when they scored on a 25-yard pass with 2:41 left. They then recovered the ensuing kickoff and took a 37-30 lead on a 2-yard run with 63 seconds left the quarter, and that set up the thrilling fourth quarter.