West Lauderdale knocks off Louisville 35-35 in double OT

·4 min read

Oct. 16—COLLINSVILLE — It was an emotional week for West Lauderdale quarterback Jackson Parker.

After sustaining an ankle injury in the Knights' 20-14 win at Kosciusko Oct. 8, Parker faced the uncertainty of his availability leading up to West Lauderdale's huge Region 4-4A contest against defending MHSAA Class 4A state champions Louisville. After finally being cleared late in the week, Parker found himself in a tight contest against the Wildcats where every snap was massive.

But Parker fought through the pain, and the last emotion he felt Friday night was jubilation, as the Knights knocked off Louisville 36-35 in a double overtime thriller Friday night. When he found out he was cleared to play, Parker said there was "absolutely no hesitation at all" to be on the field against Louisville, and he certainly wasn't regretting it after the win.

"It meant everything," Parker said of being able to play. "When I went to the doctor I couldn't walk the whole weekend, and I came up here and did a lot of therapy to recover from it. They asked me where I was at, and I told them I was ready to go."

It came down to the final play of double overtime, as West Lauderdale and Louisville were tied 21-21 at the end of regulation. The Wildcats' Keith Jackson scored on the first play of overtime on a 10-yard catch, and Louisville went for two and made it to go ahead 29-21. West Lauderdale running back JJ Grant scored on a 3-yard carry and also punched it in for the two-point play to tie it 29-29 at send the game into a second overtime period.

The Knights got the ball first in the second overtime, and Grant scored again from 10 yards out. Cooper Luke hit the PAT to make the score 36-29, and Louisville responded by passing for another touchdown to cut the lead to 36-35. The Wildcats then elected to go for two, but a quarterback keeper by Louisville's Jace Hudspeth was stopped short of the plane, securing the Knights' win.

"He rolled out, and they had two guys who ran corner routes into the end zone, but the quarterback tucked it and ran it, and then our corner and safety made a great play and balled out by tackling him at the 2-yard line," Knights defensive back Bradon Epting said. "We felt great joy knowing the hard work has paid off. We've been waiting all year for this moment, and to know we came out on top feels amazing."

West Lauderdale head coach Brock Clay has seen his fair share of Knights games both as a head coach and an assistant under former coach Stan McCain. He didn't hesitate to rank Friday's win as his favorite one during his time in Collinsville so far.

"It's a great night to be a Knight," an emotional Clay said. "I'm very proud of them."

West Lauderdale trailed 14-7 at the half, its only score coming on a 1-yard run by Parker early in the second quarter. But the Knights got the ball to begin the third and drove down the field before Brett Busbea scored on a 6-yard carry to tie the game 14-14 with 7:04 remaining in the third.

The ensuing Louisville drive stalled out around midfield, with West Lauderdale getting a key stop on fourth down. The Knights drove down the field again to finish the third quarter before Grant punched it in from 12 yards out to put West Lauderdale up 21-14 with 9:09 remaining.

Louisville tied the game with 3:22 to go in regulation on a 2-yard carry by Hudspeth, and West Lauderdale drove down the field again but was unable to score before time expired at the end of regulation.

Keeping the Wildcats' offense off the field for much of the second half — Louisville averaged 35 points per game entering Friday's contest — was key for West Lauderdale, and it's something on which the Knights pride themselves, Clay said.

"That's the game we try to play," Clay said. "We've been doing that for a while now, and we've been very successful with it. We were able to keep the chains moving when we needed to."

Grant said he could tell the long drives they sustained in the second half was beginning to wear on Louisville, which is why he wanted the football in his hands as much as possible.

"I saw they were getting tired, so I had to keep pounding the ball — I had to," Grant said.

West Lauderdale (7-1, 3-0) is scheduled to play at Choctaw Central next week.

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