The Charlton County Indians and Clinch County Panthers had squared off seventy times over the years prior to last Friday night. Many games have come down to the wire and Friday night’s game will be added to that list after Wyatt Crews’ extra point in overtime proved to be the difference in a 35-34 overtime win over the Panthers.

But the Tribe wouldn’t have been in that position if not for the legs of running back Jaylen Lilley. Lilley rushed 37 times for 242 yards and scored all five Indian touchdowns, including the game-tying score in overtime.

The Indians started off the game in fine fashion, taking the opening kickoff out to the 44 yard line. On third and one, Lilley would break free and dash 42 yards down to the five yard line. After a penalty pushed them back to the ten, the Indians picked up nine yards and on fourth and goal from the one, Lilley bulled his way into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown. Clinch jumped offsides on the PAT attempt and the Indians elected to go for the two-point conversion. Lilley ran in the try, giving the Tribe an 8-0 lead with just four minutes off the clock.

On the ensuing kickoff, Clinch would fumble the kickoff and Xavier Swift pounced on the loose football, giving the ball back to the Indians at the Panther 37. On first down, Lilley ran for 28 yards down to the nine. After a one-yard gain, the Indians were penalized back to the 13. But on second down, Lilley gained nine yards and then on third and goal, Lilley scored his second touchdown from four yards out. Crews’ PAT gave the Indians a 15-0 lead with 5:42 left in the opening quarter.

But the Panthers came back showing this wasn’t going to be an easy game. Starting from their own 34, the Panthers picked up 18 yards on two plays and from there, Clinch raced 48 yards to paydirt to cut the Indian lead to 15-7.

From there, the defenses settled in for a few series. Both teams would exchange punts and turnovers with Jay Harris intercepting a pass, and with just under four minutes left in the half, Nathan Hamlette jumped on a fumbled punt, giving the ball to the Tribe at mid field.

Jaylen King would hit Elyiss Williams for a 24-yard pass completion down the 26. Lilley picked up 12 yards on three carries for a first down. After an incomplete pass on first down, it was Lilley again breaking loose from 14 yards out for his third touchdown. Crews kicked the PAT, giving the Indians a 22-7 lead with 1:27 left before halftime.

Clinch took the ball to start the second half and moved the ball into Indian territory before two holding penalties backed them up to midfield. The Panthers would try a middle screen but defensive lineman Jamie Jackson read it correctly and intercepted the pass. But unfortunately, in his haste to advance the ball, fumbled the ball back to Clinch. The defense would eventually hold and Clinch would pin the Indians back to the six yard line.

On third down, Lilley dropped back to pass and got some pressure from the Clinch defense. In an attempt to get the ball off, his pass would be intercepted and returned two yards into the end zone. The PAT kick cut the Indian lead to 22-14 at the 5:03 mark of the third quarter.

After the kickoff, the Tribe couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt. But Kyler Williams would get the ball back for Charlton with an interception two plays later. A Clinch penalty moved the ball down to the nine yard line and Lilley would take it in from there with his fourth touchdown run. However, the PAT kick failed and the Indian lead was 28-14 with 1:22 left in third quarter.

The celebration was short lived because on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff, the Panthers would get a 61-yard touchdown run. The PAT kick cut the lead to 28-21.

The Panthers had gained all the momentum and on the next Indian drive, Clinch would intercept the ball and take over from the Indian 34. One running play later, the Panthers were in the end zone again and after the PAT kick, the game was suddenly tied at 28-28 11:19 left in regulation.

After an exchange of punts, the Indians would fumble the ball and Clinch recovered at the Indian 20 and things looked dim for the Tribe. But the Indian defense stood firm and forced a 42-yard field goal attempt. Dairion Jones came off the edge and blocked the kick to preserve the tie. Neither team would threaten the remainder of regulation and the game went into overtime.

With the ball starting at the 15 yard line, Clinch would get the first possession. The Panthers picked up two six-yard runs and on first and goal from the three, ran it in from there to take their first lead of the night. But the snap on the PAT kick was bobbled and when the holder tried to make a play, his pass was intercepted by Asad Akbar to keep the Panther lead at 34-28.

Charlton would then get their possession from the 15, needing a touchdown to keep the game alive. Lilley picked up seven yards on two carries and on third and three from the eight, he broke through the Panther defense for his fifth touchdown of the night to tie the game at 34-34. Crews would calmly kick the game-winning PAT as the Indians rushed the field to celebrate their second-straight win in the Swamp War.

Jones was in on nine tackles to lead the Tribe while Lilley excelled on the defensive side as well registering eight tackles.

Charlton improves to 5-0 on the season and are now 1-0 in region play. The Tribe is 5-0 for the first time since 2014. The Indians will be at Turner County this Friday night in another key Region 2-A matchup.