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The Powdersville Patriots (12-0) won 21-17 in front of a packed house Friday night in a thrilling come-from-behind victory against nearby rival Wren (6-6) in the 2nd round of the 3A playoffs.

Powdersville did not enjoy its 1st lead until there was 1:50 left in the game.

Defense dominated the 1st quarter. Powdersville went for it on 4th down and 1 at the 12-yard line, but the Wren defense stopped Thomas Williams to force a turnover on downs. Wren’s Malachi Reyes picked off Patriots quarterback Eli Hudgins and the next play saw Thomas Williams intercept Hurricane Gavin Owens. On Wren’s next drive, Tank Slade had a tackle for loss. The 1st quarter was scoreless.

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Elil Hudgins flees from Malachi Reyes

“Usually when you see us or Wren, it’s light up the scoreboard time and I guess we kind of balanced each other out pretty good,” said Powdersville head coach Robert Mustar about the 1st-half defense.

It took until 4:23 in the 2nd quarter for the 1st score. The Hurricanes had 4th down and 6 near midfield when Owens threw a 36-yard bullet pass to Trey Horne to the 1-yard line. Then running back Malachi Hill broke through the Powdersville defensive line to punch it in from the 1.

Horne caught 9 passes for 117 yards, while the freshman, Owens, went 17-for-36 for 128 yards and a touchdown.

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Trey Horne

Hill ran 29 times for 89 yards and 1 touchdown. Wren rolled up 325 yards of offense compared to Powdersville’s 321. 

Wren’s next score came off of an Owens-to-Kaden-Hutto 72-yard pass. Hutto caught the ball near the sideline, broke a tackle, and raced down the sideline to put the Hurricanes up 14-0 at halftime. Hutto caught 7 of 9 passes for 117 yards and 1 touchdown.

Powdersvile received the 2nd-half kick off and drove down the field in 5 plays to score. Williams outran the Wren defense around the right side for a 28-yard touchdown. A failed 2-point conversion left Powdersville trailing 14-6.

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Thomas Williams rumbles in

Williams rushed for 107 yards on 17 carries and 1 touchdown.

On Wren’s 1st possession of the 2nd half, Powdersville’s defense tackled Hill for a 1-yard loss on 3rd down to force the Hurricanes to settle for a 20-yard field goal booted by Lucas Reid to end the 3rd quarter at 17-6, Wren.

On the 1st play of the 4th quarter, Powdersville’s Williams was injured and down on the field for about 10 minutes before being carried off the field to a silent crowd. On the same drive, Hudgins threw a high pass into a crowd of Wren defenders and junior Drake Sloan came down with it for a 26-yard touchdown. 

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Drake Sloan

Hudgins completed 15 of 23 passes for 137 passing yards and 1 touchdown. Sloan caught 1 touchdown off of 10 receptions totalling 128 receiving yards.

On the 2-point conversion attempt, Wren knocked away Hudgins’ pass right into the arms of Powdersville’s Matthew Spencer to trim Wren’s lead to 17-14.

Wren then marched down the field and had 4th down and goal on the 3-yard line. Wren fumbled and Peyton Little recovered the ball for Powdersville about a foot from the goal line.

With Williams out of the game, linebacker Jalen Rambert moved to running back. He had a long rush to get Powdersville out of the shadow of its goal line. 

Post-game, Rambert said of being put in at running back, “I haven’t really been at running back unless it's in a set with Thomas [Williams] so, it kind of surprised me. But, whenever we were down there at the 1[yard line] at the start of the drive, that’s when they let me know and they’re, like, go in.”

With 5:27 left in the game, The Patriots went into punt formation on 4th-and-13 on the 37-yard line. Wren then had an offsides penalty to make it 4th and 8 at the 42. Punter Clay Davis threw an 11-yard completion to Rambert to get Powdersville a 1st down to continue the drive. 

About the fake punt, coach Mustar said, “That’s something that Coach Stewart did that makes me look like a genius hiring right there …  he’s over the punt team and  he came up with some wrinkles and that’s one that he threw in this week and gotta give all the credit to him on that and the kids executed it.”

With under 4 minutes left in the game, Powdersville went for it on 4th down and 7 but Wren had a roughing-the-passer penalty that gave Powdersville an automatic 1st down.

Sloan then caught a low pass to move Powdersville up to the 13-yard line. 

Powdersville’s game-winning touchdown came off a 4-minute-plus drive that totaled 99 yards. Rambert ran between two Hurricanes defenders untouched for a 2-yard touchdown to give Powdersville its first lead of the night.

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Jalen Rambert

“Proud of them, obviously that’s the longest in school history ‘cause you can’t get any longer than that, but that was pretty special,” said Mustar.

“It was just putting together plays. Missing 21 (Williams) … it really shows how well our coaches can coach and put plays together to get us to go,” said Rambert after the game.

“[In the second half] we made some adjustments, they listened, had some belief in them and we came out here and looked like a totally different team and were able to move the ball,” said Mustar.

In the 3rd round of the Class 3A playoffs, Powdersville (12-0) plays the Chester Cyclones (9-3), who beat Chapman 33-28 to advance.