By Glenn Hughes

Four Indian turnovers  and key penalties hurt the Indians last Friday night in Pearson as they dropped a heartbreaking, 21-20, decision to Atkinson County. Penalties hurt the ability to pick up first downs while the turnovers kept the Indian defense on the field as the Rebels ran 25 more offensive plays than the Indians.

The night got off to a good start after Atkinson received the opening kickoff. On the third play from scrimmage, the Rebels fumbled and Caleb Milton picked up the loose ball and ran 15 yards for a touchdown. Jaylen Lilley ran in the two-point conversion and the Tribe led, 8-0.

On the Rebels next possession, the Tribe forced a punt that failed to cross the line of scrimmage and the Indians took over from the 28 yard line, looking to add to their lead. But on first down, the Rebels would intercept an errant pass to regain possession.

The defense would hold again, and after another short punt, the Tribe took over from the Rebel 40 yard line. The Indians covered those yards in six plays with Lilley picking up 35 of those. Lilley capped the drive with a 13-yard run with just 0:49 left in the opening quarter. The run for two points failed and the lead was up to 14-0.

But on the ensuing kickoff, the Rebels would break several tackles  and return the ball 75 yards for a touchdown, and with the PAT kick, the Indian lead was cut in half at 14-7.

After the two teams exchanged punts, the Tribe would take over from the Rebels 41. But on the second play, the Indians would fumble and the Rebels had the ball at the Indian 36.

Atkinson would drive down and get a first and goal from the eight yard line. Two Rebel penalties and a sack pushed the ball back, but a late hit penalty on the Tribe gave the Rebels the ball at the 27. On the following play, a Rebel receiver got behind the defense for a touchdown pass with 2:40 left in the half. The PAT kick knotted the score at 14-14.

But the Indians weren’t finished yet after taking over from their own 30. After a six-yard run by Seaquan Clark, and a 23-yard pass from Jaylen King to Clark, the Indians were in rebel territory. Tony Cobb would run three times to move the ball to the 19. Cobb would then make a leaping catch to pick up a first down at the four yard line. Two incomplete passes and two Indian penalties pushed the ball back to the 14, from where, on third down, King would find Clark in the end zone with just five seconds left in the half. The pass for two points failed and the Indian lead was 20-14 heading into halftime.

The Indians received the second half kickoff and on the short kick, the ball was fumbled, giving the Rebels great field position at the 26. Eight straight runs would get Atkinson in the end zone, scoring on a 14-yard run. The PAT kick was good and the Rebels held a 21-20 lead.

The Indians would take over after the kickoff and get 22 yards rushing by Lilley and a 19-yard shovel pass to Marcell Maxwell to move down to the 12 yard line. The Indians would get to the seven before an incomplete pass on fourth down ended the drive.

Atkinson would move from the shadow of their own goal line out close to midfield before the Indian defense stopped them on downs and took over inside Rebel territory. But three Indian penalties pushed them backwards and they would have to punt as the third quarter came to a close.

Atkinson would then put together a time consuming 15-play drive down to the Indian 13, from where the Rebels missed a 30-yard field goal.

With just 4:03 remaining, the Indians took over from their 20, but on the second play, the Indians would lose another fumble at the 14 yard line. Atkinson would run the ball twice, and tried again on third down, and the Indian defense forced a fumble that Clark fell on at the nine yard line, giving the Tribe one last chance with 1:36 left. But it wasn’t meant to be as the Indians couldn’t advance the ball and the Rebels ran out the final seconds of their 21-20 win.

Lilley led the Indians with 71 rushing yards while Clark caught three passes for 41 yards. King finished the night with 94 passing yards.

Charlton will be on the road again this week when they travel to Turner County for another Region 2-A contest.