PURVIS, MS (WDAM) - Turnovers proved costly for Purvis High School through the first three quarters of its Region 7-4A football game with Greene County High School.
But in the end, the Tornadoes sealed their 36-21 victory by intercepting the Wildcats twice in a 50-second span.
Three snaps after Purvis had taken a 28-21 lead, C.J. Bolar jumped an out route at the Wildcats' 43-yard line and sprinted 57 yards down the sideline to give the Tornadoes a two-score edge with 3 minutes, 33 seconds, to play.
Three plays later, Trenton Flatt picked off another pass, handing the ball back to the Tornadoes offense, which ran off the final 2:43 of the game.
"Our defense played big, and then Trent getting that interception was big to kind of seal it," Purvis coach Perry Wheat said.
Despite the absence of starting quarterback Ty Howell (foot injury), the Tornadoes (5-2, 2-0) ran off their fifth, consecutive victory as running back John Bolton crashed and slashed his way to 236 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.
Bolton's biggest carry of the night turned into the longest play of the game.
With the score tied 21-21 in the third quarter, Greene County (2-5, 0-2) staved off a Purvis touchdown when Dylan Curtis had the ball punched free at the goal line after a 46-yard run. Instead of taking the lead, the ball bounded into the end zone before rolling out of bounds for a touchback.
The Wildcats then commenced a 16-play drive that finished off the final minutes of the third quarter and more than half of the fourth.
But facing fourth-and-7 at Purvis' 17, pressure by Purvis defensive end Jaleel Davis forced Greene County quarterback Jaden Walley to force up a pass that was knocked down by Connor Cook.
Purvis took over, and on the first play, Bolton fumbled, but the Tornadoes were able to cover the football at the 20.
One snap later, Bolton sped around right end, got a block on the edge downfield and went 80 yards to put Purvis ahead 28-21 with 5:02 to play in the game.
"It felt good, ya know, just to get a touchdown to help my team get a win (Friday night)," Bolton said. "We're just looking forward to getting better each and every game. Coach Wheat is always talking about having a championship attitude, and I feel like that's what we had (Friday night), just coming together as a team."
Greene County coach Johnny Ainsworth, who had seen his Wildcats take advantage of two, first-half Purvis fumbles to lead 21-14 at halftime, said the difference in the game came down to a handful of plays that were both made and not made.
Ainsworth pointed to the play that allowed Purvis to tie the game at the start of the third quarter: A tipped pass from Cook on fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line that a streaking Flatt caught on a dive.
"They came out after the half, and the tipped pass, that was big, and then we made some wrong decisions," Ainsworth said. "The ball was on the ground in the second half, and we didn't get it, and that was big. But my hat goes off to them. Their kids play hard, our kids play hard, and that's the way it's supposed to be."
Purvis took advantage of a first-quarter fumble to take on a 7-0 lead on Bolton's 7-yard run, but the Wildcats answered after recovering a Tornadoes' fumble at the Purvis 25-yard line near the end of the quarter.
Rashad Wallace capped the drive on an 11-yard run to pull Greene County even.
Bolton's 36-yard touchdown burst gave Purvis a 14-7 lead, but Walley went 67 yards on the first play of the Wildcats' ensuing possession to tie the game.
Greene County then took another Purvis fumble 65 yards, with Braxton Walker slicing in for a 21-14 halftime lead.
Walley finished with 132 yards rushing on 14 carries, completing 7 of 14 passes for 86 yards.
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