ATHENS -- Lucas Lovejoy overcame a 22-point, second-half deficit to capture a stunning 55-51 victory over Hallsville in a Class 4A Division II Region II bi-district playoff Saturday at Bruce Field.

Dakota Michaels' 63-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Fuller with 2:10 remaining capped a 29-3 Lovejoy run over the game's final 15:43, sending the Leopards (8-3) to an area-round matchup with unbeaten Ennis next week.

Hallsville, which led 48-26 after Kha'lil Sneed's 8-yard touchdown run with 5:41 remaining in the third, finished the season at 6-5.

The Bobcats had one last chance to go ahead, but Hallsville quarterback Macailyn Wilder was intercepted on a second-and-4 play from his own 39.

The game's turning point occurred early in the fourth quarter when Wilder was intercepted by Tate Locklear, who turned it into a 95-yard pick-six. Fuller's two-point conversion tied the game, 48-48, with 9:25 remaining.

Hallsville went three-and-out on its next possession, but recovered a Lovejoy fumble on the punt return and set up shop at the Leopards' 10. However, the Bobcats had to settle for a Paden Brown 24-yard field goal and 51-48 lead with 5:37 to go.

Lovejoy fumbled again on the ensuing possession, but Hallsville couldn't capitalize and was forced to punt it back to the Leopards, setting up Lovejoy's game-winning touchdown pass.

The two teams combined for 1,582 yards, 14 touchdowns and 47 first downs.

Lovejoy used two quarterbacks -- Michaels and Chochy Luce, who combined to throw for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Luce had 69 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while Daniel Sefcik led Lovejoy with 153 rushing yards on 17 carries. Fuller finished with four catches for 93 yards, Sefcik caught two passes for 82 yards and a score, while Grant Jarvis also had two receptions for 82 yards.

Wilder shined in the losing effort, rushing 31 times for 226 yards and two touchdowns while completing 9 of 20 passes for 124 yards and another score. Sneed had 147 yards and four rushing touchdowns on 21 carries.

Hallsville led 27-26 at halftime and expanded its lead by scoring on its first three possessions of the third quarter. Sneed and Wilder had touchdown runs of 5 and 18 yards, respectively, before Sneed's 8-yard run gave the Bobcats a seemingly comfortable 22-point lead.

Lovejoy then began its comeback, scoring on a 3-yard run by Luce with 3:23 remaining in the third and cutting Hallsville's lead to 48-40 on a Jarvis 2-yard run 38 seconds into the fourth.

-- Stats courtesy

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