By LEE ADAMS
CRAWFORD – The West Oktibbeha Timberwolves were called for numerous penalties during Friday night's Class A, Region 3, District 4 showdown with West Lowndes.
Timberwolves head coach Adam Lowrey doesn't agree that every penalty called was accurate, but was proud of how his team bounced back to get the win.
"Games like this point to nobody but God," said Lowrey. "We held for more miles than it took to get us here, we had more facemask tonight than we did all of last year, we had two points taken off the board and even with all that adversity came, we showed faith."
Despite the penalties and mistakes, the Timberwolves (6-2, 4-1) held an early 8-0 lead but surprisingly it wasn't scored by their normally powerful offense. Their first touchdown came when Sharrod Stafford blocked a Panther punt and Drake Powell raced 25 yards into the end zone.
West Lowndes (2-6, 1-4) tied the game later in the first quarter, but Tiberias Lampkin gave the Timberwolves the lead again when he powered his way to the end zone with 1:33 left in the quarter.
Both team converted all its 2-point attempts in the first quarter, and West Oktibbeha led 16-8 at the end of the quarter.
The Panthers tied the game at 16-16 right before halftime and the dog fight continued in the second half.
West Oktibbeha's marched down the field on the first drive of the second half and Von Smith, who finished the night 12-for-21, 185 yards and one touchdown, finished the drive by connecting with Powell for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
Smith did make a mistake on the next drive when he was forced out of the pocket and threw and interception to Trevor Stowers, who return the pick 65 yards for the game tying touchdown.
Even when the Panthers took their first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter; West Oktibbeha answered quickly by giving the "work horse" the ball.
Lampkin, who ran for 97 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns, tied the game at 30 with his 4-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal.
There was some controversy that arose on the 2-point attempt as two officials called Smith's pass complete and another ruled it incomplete. In the end, the pass was ruled incomplete leaving the game tied.
"First off, God get all the glory for everything," said Lampkin. "Without the offensive line getting the push off the ball, I can't do nothing. When these guys are pushing, I just want to work hard for this team and get yards we need to get."
With the game tied, the Timberwolf defense stepped up, led by junior defensive lineman Michael Graise. Graise had a fumble recovery and an interception. His interception came with 3:40 left in the game and set up the game winning touchdown. When he saw the pass coming his way all he could think was "I hope I catch it." He did catch it but was hesitant to take full credit for his success.
"I couldn't do it by myself," said Graise. "I wouldn't be anything without my fellow linemen."
Graise and the defense stepped up and made big plays and that's largely in part to defensive coordinator Kelvin Cistrunk not letting them get their heads down.
"I just kept telling them not giving up and just believing that God will come through for them," said Cistrunk. "My d-line is getting better and better every week and my ends are stepping up. I'm just looking forward to that journey to Jackson."
After the interception, Smith ran in from 3 yards out for the game winning score.
Even though they picked up the 36-30 win, Lowrey sees his team needs a lot of work.
"We have to start over," said Lowrey. "We have to go back to the woodshed, find out where the fundamental leaks are and we got to fix this roof."
On Monday, they will begin their work for next week's game with East Oktibbeha and Lowrey thinks his team is ready to get at it.
"Now we are ready to work," said Lowrey. "We're hungry and I wouldn't have it any other way."