CONWAY — The West needed just one more opportunity, and Clay Patrick provided it Friday night.
The former Springdale High standout scooped up a late fumble to end an East scoring threat, then Lucas Reed of El Dorado hit Vincent Love of Hope on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 27 seconds left to give the West a 16-13 victory in the 58th annual Arkansas High School All-Star Football Game at UCA’s Estes Stadium.
“That’s one of the great things about football,” said West head coach and Booneville High School graduate Tony Travis of Pea Ridge. “You just never know. That’s just like our defense — we told them they’re not in until they’re in.
“The defense came up with a big play; the offense never quit all the way down.”
Travis, who led Pea Ridge to its first playoff appearance since 2005, and a playoff win joined a list of BHS alums that includes Ken Rippy and Josh Jones who have been the head coach of the West. Rippy did so twice as Booneville’s head coach and Jones as Magazine’s.
The East led 13-9 and appeared ready to put the game away when it had first-and-goal at the West 2. A bad snap led to an incomplete pass on first down. Then two running plays only picked up half the yardage, forcing a fourth-and-goal from a yard out.
That’s when Patrick, who was named the game’s outstanding defensive lineman, rose to the occasion. The East had another bad snap, and he was there to pick up the loose ball and return it to the West 11 with 3:18 on the clock.
Reed hit Walter Ashley of Pine Bluff on two occasions to keep the drive going, then connected with Malachi McGee of Mena for 28 yards to the East 21 with slightly more than a minute left to play. Two straight running plays resulted in no yardage, then Reed fired deep to his left to hit Love in the end zone for the score before Nick DeLeon of Pea Ridge added the extra point.
The East then took the ensuing kickoff and used three pass plays to move from its 26 to the West 35 with one second remaining, but Lane Campbell of Jonesboro Westside was short and wide left on his 52-yard field goal attempt as time expired.
McGee had also caught a 24-yard touchdown pass just 27 seconds before theintermission to give the West a 9-6 lead.