[Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

TYLER -- The Beckville Bearcats were six seconds away from a rematch with a district rival, and a chance to avenge their only loss of the season.

 Lovelady had other plans.

Lee Holsey heaved a pass into the end zone on the game's final snap that Jacob Jeffus went up and grabbed for the winning score, lifting the Lovelady Lions to a 27-26 victory over Beckville in the Class 2A Division I Region III semifinal at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

“We really haven’t been tested a whole lot this year” Lions head coach Kerry Therwhanger said. “You never know how your kids will respond to it, but the true character of our kids came out. We work on it every week, with a minute or a minute and a half to go, but you never expect the play that happened at the end. You just have to throw it up and hope someone goes and makes a play. Luckily, our senior stepped up.”

Jacari Reed dives into the end zone on a 5-yard run to even Beckville with Lovelady, 14-14, before the halftime break.

Lovelady advanced to face Shelbyville, a 27-21 winner against Centerville, at 7 p.m. Friday inside Dragons Stadium in Nacogdoches.

After an even first half, the Bearcats (11-2) opened the second half from their own 5-yard line, but it didn’t take long to find the end zone.

Rahmon Mitchell made an incredible play, spinning off of a pair of defenders, keeping himself up by planting his hand on the turf and kept going. An 81-yard score.

Mitchell finished with 134 yards on just 13 carries, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark on the season alongside fellow tailback Jacari Reed.

The extra point was no good, which would be a critical play down the stretch.

Facing fourth-and-2 at their own 30-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Beckville punted. The 11-yard kick left the door open for Lovelady.

A pair of runs by Emanual Williams, the workhorse for the Lions, gained a first down and a face mask penalty moved the ball to the 15-yard line. After a tackle behind the line by Reed -- one of his five in the game -- the Lions faced fourth-and-6.

Holsey tossed one up to the corner of the end zone and Hunter Murray pulled it down, giving the lead back to the Lions, 21-20, after a successful extra point by Devon Hamock.

Trailing by a point with 7:06 remaining, Beckville began handing the ball off to Reed. The bruiser picked up 14 yards on first down to move the ball to midfield, and the Bearcats were milking the clock to perfection down to Lovelady's 8 with the aid of penalties.

Reed hit the end zone with 1:35 left in the game and Beckville opted to go for two to make it a seven-point game.

Lovelady's defense rose up, stuffing Reed at the line and keeping the lead at 26-21.

Just as Beckville rode the back of Reed on their final drive, Lovelady did the same with Williams.

With passing an issue in the driving rain, Williams took four consecutive handoffs to open the drive, picking up 10, 6, 6 and 9 yards to move the ball to the Beckville 45 with under a minute remaining.

A 2-yard pass from Holsey to Murray moved the chains, but the Lions faced a critical fourth-and-3 at the 36. Holsey’s pass fell incomplete, but a pass interference penalty gave them life and the ball at the 12-yard line with 11 seconds remaining.

After an incompletion, the Lions called timeout with six seconds left.

Hulsey then dropped back and heaved one into the end zone that looked as if it would be batted away, but Jeffus elevated over a defender to grab the ball with no time remaining.

Lovelady's quarterback finished 11 of 27 for 146 yards and the pair of  fourth-quarter touchdowns. Jeffus caught three passes for 33 yards, and Murray added four catches for 58 yards despite the conditions.

Reed, who led all of East Texas in tackles entering this weekend's slate of competition as a linebacker, ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns in his final high school game.

 "He’s one of those kids that you get to coach once every 10 to15 years” Beckville head coach Lance Gamble. “Great character kid, captain of our team. He plays every snap, doesn’t matter if it's practice, as hard as he can play. You wish you could have 11 of him every time you’re out there. I’ll really miss that kid. He was a joy to coach and he’s really kind of what got us here.”

The Bearcats finished their 2015 season with a second-place finish in District 10-2A Division I and two postseason wins. The program had not reached the postseason since the 2011 campaign.

“It was a great season, I never would’ve dreamed it in a million years” Gamble said. “It just goes to show you, when the kids get their mindset and heart in the right place to accomplish a goal -- That’s what they did. I would’ve been happy to win eight games and make the playoffs, and we go 11-2 and two points away from playing in the regional championship with eight teams left in the state. I’m so proud of the kids and the community and what we were able to accomplish. It hurts right now, but we’ll look back on this with a lot of pride.”

Jacari Reed ran for 137 yards and three scores in his final high school game.
Lovelady 27, Beckville 26
Class 2A Division I Regional Playoff Game
TMF Rose Stadium, Tyler

Lovelady –      6          8       0    13     --   27
Beckville –      7          7       6      6    --    26

First Quarter
LOVE – Emanual Williams 1 run (2-pt failed) 6:51
BECK – Jacari Reed 1 run (Joel Saucedo kick) :10
Second Quarter
LOVE – Williams 6 run (Kade White run) 4:46
BECK – Reed 5 run (Saucedo kick) 3:34
Third Quarter
BECK – Rahmon Mitchell 81 run (Kick failed) 5:24
Fourth Quarter
LOVE – Hunter Murray 16 pass from Lee Holsey (Devon Hammock kick) 7:06
BECK – Reed 8 run (2-pt failed) 1:35
LOVE – Jacob Jeffus 23 pass from Holsey :00

                                    LOVE              BECK

First Downs                19                   12
Total Yards                341                 321
Rushes-Yards         44-195           44-293
Pass Yards                 146                 28
Comp-Att-Int             11-27-0          2-7-0
Penalties-Yards         6-36                4-48
Fumbles-Lost             2-2                  1-1
Punts-Avg                  4-36                4-31

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing – Lovelady, Emanual Williams 39-164, Lee Holsey 4-18, Courtell McQuirter 1-13. Beckville, Rahmon Mitchell 13-134, Trey Lindsay 10-35, Jacari Reed 21-137.
Passing – Lovelady, Holsey 11-27-0--146. Beckville, Lindsay 1-6-0--16, Braden Wise 1-1-0--12
Receiving – Lovelady, Petey Little 3-42, McQuirter 1-13, Jacob Jeffus 3-33, Hunter Murray 4-58. Beckville, Jake Smith 1-16, Lindsay 1-12.