INDIAN TRAIL Porter Ridge senior Nick Vagnone had already had a great game, scoring on a 52-yard interception return and again on a one-yard touchdown run in the first half.
But Vagnone save his best for last, as he took a direct snap from center Eric Hogan on the final play of the game and ran in untouched for a two-point conversion that gave Porter Ridge a 35-34 comeback win over Independence in their first-ever Southwestern 4A conference game.
“I had a feeling we might call that play,” Vagnone said, who got the signal just before the snap from Pirates’ coach, Greg Neuendorf. “I was confident that Eric (Hogan) would get me the ball, because he’s a rugby player and that was a rugby style pass. It was the perfect play.”
Porter Ridge (4-2, 1-0) got within a point with no time left on the clock when Pirates’ quarterback Isaiah Hicklin found Luke Bayly on a 6-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 34-33.
“That was two great plays in a row to win it,” Neuendorf said. “It says a lot about our kids that they keep playing to the last snap. This was a huge win for us.”
Independence (4-3, 1-1) looked they had the game in hand, up 34-27 with the ball on the Porter Ridge seven-yard line with just over a minute left.
But Patriots’ junior quarterback, Kelvin Hopkins, fumbled on 3rd-and-7 to give the Pirates the ball and a chance.
Porter Ridge drove 80 yards on 12 plays in just 58.6 seconds, aided by three pass interference penalties.
Hicklin passed for 224 yards and two touchdowns, while Bayly had seven catches for 79 yards to lead Porter Ridge.
Independence was led by running back Isaiah Robinson who had 125 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Hopkins added 294 yards and two touchdowns passing.
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