Mount Paran (7-3, 5-2) led 7-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the Eagles were penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone — resulting in a safety that gave Bowdon (8-2, 5-2) the lead back. A 24-yard touchdown run by Alonzo Wyatt then secured the win for the Red Devils, who clinched the No. 3 seed from 6A.
Bowdon will go on the road to play Region 5A runner-up Holy Innocents’ next week in the first round of the state playoffs.
“The game had a little bit of everything,” Bowdon coach Dwight Hochstetler said. “That’s the best that our defense has played all year. I thought both teams played well. It was a physical ballgame. Both teams were hitting each other hard. Both teams made some mistakes and penalties. We made some mistakes, but we came back with the safety and a touchdown in the fourth quarter.”
Maricio Askew rushed for 149 yards on 30 carries to lead the way for Bowdon.
Mount Paran was left to settle for the No. 4 seed and will have to travel to Region 5A champion Eagle’s Landing Christian, a perennial power that’s been in the state rankings all season, in the first round.
“It was a close, hard-fought game,” Mount Paran coach Mitch Jordan said. “Bowdon got the safety on the intentional grounding, and the touchdown in the fourth quarter. We’re not sure about the intentional grounding call. We’ll have to watch the game film to see for sure.
“Our defense did a great job. Bowdon is a very good offensive team, and they’ve been averaging 40 points a game. I’m proud of our kids’ effort, and now we have to get ready for the state playoffs.”
Carter McKinnon led Mount Paran, rushing for 89 yards on 19 carries, while Ian Berryman was 6-of-13 passing for 120 yards and a touchdown.
After a scoreless first quarter, Bowdon got on the scoreboard first when Tyler Wright threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to J.B. Stephens with 10:04 remaining. The extra point was missed, though, leaving the Red Devils with a 6-0 lead.
The advantage held up until early in the fourth quarter, when Berryman threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Jay with 11:45 remaining. Dallas Kepler then made the kick to put Mount Paran ahead 7-6.
The Eagles’ lead didn’t last long, however.
With the ball at their own 22-yard line, Mount Paran was called for a holding penalty that moved the ball back to its own 12. Then, two plays later, Berryman was called for the intentional grounding in the end zone, giving Bowdon two points and allowing it to go back up 8-7 with 8:22 left.
The Red Devils then put the finishing touches to their win after Wyatt’s 24-yard scoring run with 1:32 left.