SEMINARY – Tied at 13-13 with three minutes and 15 seconds left, Purvis needed to march the ball 73 yards to get to its first 4-0 start since 2010.
Six plays later, Purvis’ Keoki Laphand broke out a 24-yard run and scored the go-ahead touchdown run that won the game for the Tornados 19-13.
“I knew it was crunch time,” Laphand said. “We line up, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I get to the B Gap and see a crease to the right and was off to the races after that.”
For Laphand, the game was his debut after he suffered an injury just before the season.
“We were practicing doing punt return drills,” Laphand said. “I made a weird cut, and the next thing I know, I was in the hospital with a hip flexor avulsion. I didn’t know how long I was (going to be out). I had to stay positive about it.”
For Purvis coach Brad Hankins, the first thought that crossed his head in the game’s final minutes was to just protect the football. His other thought was just how special his team had played.
“Z-bang, power, left, (was the play),” Hankins said. (Laphand) cut it back, he knew they were running with motion, and it opened up on the backside. It was pretty good.
“(4-0 is) pretty special. This is a pretty special group of guys. They get after it, and they play their butts off. That’s why I love them.”
However, Purvis did not get off to the start it had hoped, as Seminary’s quarterback, Jabori Potts, threw a 56-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
The Tornado offense got off toas just an ugly start as quarterback Hunter Robinson was intercepted after his wide receiver juggled the ball in the fourth play of their opening drive.
Despite the ugly start, Seminary killed its drive with a pair of penalties and allowed Purvis to force a three and out.
Seminary (1-2) plagued itself with penalties throughout the night, which Purvis took advantage of. Robinson capitalized on the opportunity and drew the Bulldogs offsides with his hard count multiple times in the game and sustained his offense’s drives.
“I’ll draw my own guys offsides in practice sometimes,” Robinson said. “I guess I have a good hard count or something, but I got them a few times, and it really helped us out in a few drives.
“It was a physical football game; we knew that going in. We gave a drive or two away. We knew they were going to make some plays, and they did. They have a great football team over there.”
Purvis finally got on the board in the second quarter as Kaden Sherrill broke out a 42-yard and set up a 15-yard touchdown by Ty Badon to tie the game 7-7.
Five minutes later, Purvis put together a 10-play, 61- yard drive. On third and goal from the eight-yard line, Robinson dropped back with multiple defenders and connected with Ethan Nored to extend Purvis’ lead 13-7 before halftime.
“We put in that play this week,” Robinson said. “It’s a good one. I rolled out right, and then right when threw it, I got lit up.
“All I saw is (Nored) catching that ball, and then all that pain just left my body when I saw he scored.”
At the start of the second half, Seminary put together an 81-yard drive that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run that tied the game 13-13.
Purvis tried to respond with the following drive and drove to the Bulldogs’ one-yard line, but was stopped on third and goal. The Tornados attempted a quick fourth and goal play but were stopped, which shifted the momentum.
“It was kind of confusing,” Robinson said. “We were going fast and trying to catch them off guard, but they knew what was coming. They were better than us that play.”
Purvis’ defense struggled in the second half as the Bulldogs adjusted its play-calling to have its run attack the sidelines rather than the middle in the first half.
“That’s one of those things where he had to make adjustments and try and figure things out,” Hankins said. “I thought our kids made adjustments on the fly real well. It kind of showed at the end of the game.”
Even though Purvis’ defense held the Bulldogs to 239 total yards, Seminary’s offense sustained a nine-play drive before penalties again killed their late drive. By the end of the night, Seminary committed 11 penalties that totaled 78 yards.
“Getting stopped at the one-yard line blew most of our momentum,” Robinson said. “Our defense came through at the end, and that gave us momentum, and we knew we could pound the football (heading into the final drive).”
Robinson finished for the night 6-of-9 and passed 43 yards, a touchdown an interception. Robinson also came down with an interception at the end of the first half.
“He is special,” Hankins said. “He played his butt off, and we expect that out of him every Friday night. He is the leader of our football team, and it shows. They follow him for sure.”
Purvis will stay on the road next week and face Stone for its region opener.