JONESBORO — A running play seemed likely with Nettleton facing third and goal at the Mountain Home 3-yard line in the final minute of a tie game Friday night at Raider Field.
Eight consecutive runs, four each by Cameron Scarlett and Koby Bradley, had taken the Raiders from their 49-yard line to the Bombers’ 3. Mountain Home lined up its defense accordingly after a timeout with 37.7 seconds to play.
That’s when the Raiders decided to throw and Scarlett found Bradley wide open for a 3-yard touchdown pass that gave Nettleton a 28-21 victory.
“Obviously we had been running the ball, running the ball, and we knew they were going to be crammed in there tight,” Nettleton head coach Steven Hampton said. “We had two downs to make it, so we knew we had fourth down and if it wasn’t there, he was going to throw it away. But they were all expecting run, and Koby slipped out in the flats and made a great play. Cam put it on him.”
The Raiders finished a comeback victory by running out the final 23.5 seconds after Juan Badillo’s interception on the Bombers’ ensuing possession.
Nettleton (2-0) trailed 21-7 at halftime after Mountain Home’s Gage Lindsey ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter. The Raiders got a break to start the second half, recovering a fumble at the Mountain Home 48, and Bradley scored on a 39-yard run to start their rally.
“We talk about adversity and overcoming it, and that’s easy to talk about. Then when it actually happens, you see some emotion and some frustration,” Hampton said. “We got in there (at halftime) and got everybody calmed down, and they really pulled together as a team. Of course getting that turnover to start the second half just kind of ignited us.”
Bradley’s touchdown run on fourth-and-1 pulled the Raiders within 21-14 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.
Mountain Home (0-2) drove to Nettleton’s 15-yard line before stalling on its next possession. A 32-yard field goal attempt fell short with 5:35 left in the quarter and Nettleton began another touchdown drive.
Bradley scored on a 28-yard run to begin the fourth quarter and Joseph Nuhung’s extra point tied the game at 21.
“Obviously the first half they did a good job up front and controlled the line of scrimmage. The second half, it was a different story,” Hampton said. “Our offensive line came out and took over, and Koby made some really nice runs.”
Nettleton forced a punt on Mountain Home’s next possession, but the Bombers caught a break when the Raiders lost a fumble at their own 29 with 6:56 remaining.
Javontae Wallace sacked Bomber quarterback Cade Yates on the next play, then combined with Jorje Salas and other teammates on another sack as Mountain Home ended up in a punting situation.
The Bombers’ punter went to a knee to field a low snap, giving Nettleton the ball at its 49 with 4:48 to play.
“That was a huge break. It was a low snap and the kid went down to a knee. That helped field position,” Hampton said. “You saw where there were 30 seconds left (when Nettleton scored). I don’t know if we would have made it if we’d had to go much farther.”
Scarlett, who scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, had 27 yards on four carries in Nettleton’s game-winning drive. Bradley had four carries for 21 yards on the drive before catching the touchdown pass with 33.8 seconds to play.
Bradley finished with 157 yards on 21 carries. Scarlett added 98 yards on 16 carries and also completed 9-of-22 passes for 57 yards. Blake Brown led Nettleton's defense with nine tackles, while Wallace and Jordan Pigram both had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Nettleton concludes its non-conference schedule Friday at home against Pocahontas.
Hampton hopes the Raiders’ response to adversity helps in tough situations later in the season.
“Non-conference, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t affect playoffs or any of that stuff, but it helps build your team and having a ballgame like this is going to benefit us down the road,” Hampton said. “We’re going to be in some tight ballgames and we just have to learn to stay together and keep battling like they did tonight.”