Lavon Pearson had himself quite a first half Saturday afternoon — five catches, 116 yards and a touchdown.
In the second half, nothing. Not one catch, and not a single yard.
Yet he still made the two biggest plays of the fourth quarter as Denbigh held on for dear life and a 21-20 win over Kecoughtan at Todd Stadium.
Pearson delivered two jarring hits from his safety position, both coming as the Warriors were threatening to score, to single-handedly disrupt two fourth-down conversion attempts.
"He stepped up big for us," Denbigh coach Marcellus Harris III said. "Their field-goal kicker (Kyle Lawrence) had been doing a good job all day. And without those two plays he made at the end, the result might have been a lot different."
No question. With Denbigh clinging to a one-point lead, the Warriors had a fourth-and-14 from the 39-yard line. Quarterback Bruce Bailey threw a perfect pass to Adrian Pope past the first-down marker. But Pearson drilled Pope, and the ball fell incomplete with 1:57 left.
That looked to be it. But after Jarmaine Rawls fumbled, Kecoughtan had another chance with first down at the Patriot 40. Warriors faced a fourth-and-14 from the 44, and Bailey hit Brandon Bacchus across the middle. But Pearson drilled him, too, and Bacchus ended up six yards short of the first down.
"It was just gut-check time," Pearson said. "I just had to give it all I had."
In a crazy game, the winning team was penalized 12 times for 118 yards. But the biggest flag of the day came against Kecoughtan on the final drive as Bailey appeared to pick up 8 yards to the 32.
The Warriors were penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, which moved the ball back to the 47-yard line. Pearson's tackle of Bacchus came two plays later.
Kecoughtan coach Glenn Tidwell said an official told him he was too close to the sideline and had bumped him during the play.
"I never touched him," Tidwell said. "That was huge. We were about to kick a field goal."
Denbigh's offense was clicking all day behind Pearson's first half and Rawls' second half. After carrying four times for 23 yards in the first half, Rawls had 20 attempts and 95 yards in the second.
"We saw how they were playing defense," Harris said. "They were dropping guys back to take the pass away. Jarmaine Rawls did a good job. He took the pitch and took it up the field."
The Patriots outgained the Warriors by nearly 200 yards (383-195) but continuously hurt themselves with penalties. Denbigh was called for offensive holding four times in the second quarter alone.
"Those come from being undisciplined," Harris said. "Face masks, late hits, holding ... stuff we as a staff have to tighten up."
DENBIGH 21, KECOUGHTAN 20
7670 — 20Denbigh
7770 — 21First quarter
Den: Rawls 6 run (K. Jones kick)
Kec: Pope 92 kickoff return (Lawrence kick)
Den: Pearson 28 pass from Simon (K. Jones kick)
Kec: Lawrence FG 29
Kec: Lawrence FG 28
Kec: Reaves 55 run (Lawrence kick)
Den: Rawls 1 run (K. Jones kick)
TEAM STATSKecDenFirst downs820Rushes-yards23-10139-184Passing yards94199Comp.-att.-ints5-14-011-21-0Punts-avg.3-27.33-14.7Penalties-yards6-6012-118Fumbles-lost5-14-2
OnlineOnline Read Dave Johnson's Inside the PD blog at HRVarsity.com.