Overton Rides Powerful Backfield + Dominant Defense to Bi-District Win Over Wortham
PALESTINE -- Backed by a potent backfield and a stingy defense, the Overton Mustangs defeated the Wortham Bulldogs 34-7 in their Class A Division II Region III bi-district playoff Thursday at Wildcat Stadium.
It had been seven years since Overton's (7-4) last playoff appearance, and now the Mustangs will move on to the area playoffs to face the defending state champion Tenaha Tigers on Nov. 22 in Beckville.
Overton's defense was the story of the night, yielding only 174 yards of offense and adding five tackles for loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception against an overmatched Wortham squad. Linebacker Jesse Roach had two sacks, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery to lead the defense.
"Our kids executed the game plan we put together," said Overton coach Josh Barton. "We told them at the beginning of the year to be uncommon. Ever since Aug. 6, these kids have answered the challenge."
Quarterback K.J. Luster led the offensive attack for Overton, going 8 of 17 for 135 yards passing and three touchdowns, while junior running back Jamal Kelly rushed for 162 yards and two scores.
Luster got started early when he hit freshman wide receiver Julian Herndon on a play-action pss for a 40-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead at the 6:04 mark in the first.
After Wortham (4-7) fumbled on its next offensive play, Overton went on a 10-play drive, culminating on a Luster 10-yard touchdown strike to Alex Yancey. Luster nailed Jesse Roach with a pass in the back of the end zone for the 2-point conversion and 14-0 advantage.
Wortham caught a break on special teams early in the second when Steven Hutson blocked an Overton punt and ran it in for a 10-yard touchdown, narrowing the gap to 14-7. That's as close as Wortham got.
"We were a 1-9 program last year, and one of the things we have a hard time doing is overcoming," said Wortham coach Shane Doege. "It's something we've been working towards as a program. And Overton's backs and offensive line did a great job tonight, my hat's off to them."
Overton went on another 10-play drive late in the second quarter, converting a fourth-down trick play to continue the march. Kelly rumbled into the end zone from 17 yards out, giving the Mustangs a 22-7 lead.
Luster and the Mustangs weren't through as the signal-caller hit Damion Dennis with a screen pass, and Dennis went 60 yards to paydirt with 1:26 left in the first half, giving Overton the 28-7 lead right before halftime.
Quarterback Brandon Campbell led Wortham, accounting for 163 of its 174 yards of offense. He was 11 of 25 passing for 93 yards with 70 more on the ground.
Kelly completed the scoring for the Mustangs with a 3-yard touchdown run at the 6:24 mark in the third quarter, and the defense did the rest.
"We knew by watching film, if we got pressure on (Campbell) we'd have a chance, and our linebackers and secondary did a great job," Barton said.