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With time winding down in the fourth quarter, Waynesville appeared destined to punch in the go-head score. The Tigers took over its final possession at the Lebanon 15-yard line, but saw a chop block penalty on third down move the ball from inside the 10 all the way back to its own 28-yard line.
After an incomplete pass on third down, the Tigers faced fourth a 23 at the Lebanon 28 with 30 seconds remaining. Pearcy, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior linebacker, stepped in front of a pass down the middle of the field and raced up the sideline — all the way to the end zone.
Lebanon head coach Will Christian said Pearcy had been battling cramps and had left the contest earlier in the game.
"Nick did a great job in his job and sat and waited and the quarterback didn't see him and tried to hit an open receiver in the middle of the football field and Nick stepped right in front of it and made a great play," Christian said. "I am so proud of our kids. So easily, on the road, in the second half, it wasn't looking good. We could have folded and quit, but we found a way to win the ballgame. Hats off to our kids. I am proud of them, they did a great job."
The interception was the last of five turnovers by Waynesville. The Tigers had three costly fumbles in the first half, and two interceptions in the second half.
"We had opportunities where that (play) shouldn't have made a difference," Waynesville head coach Rick Vernon said. "We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that we had and couldn't get the ball in the end zone enough."
Waynesville (0-2 overall, 0-2 Ozark Conference) had moments moving the ball, but were done in by five turnovers, several of which came at key moments. The Tigers opened the game by fumbling on each of its first two possessions, then after punting on the next three, fumbled the ball away at the Lebanon 33 with 1:13 remaining in the first half.
After a big kickoff return to open the second half set up a 14-yard run by 12, the Tigers followed a Lebanon punt by throwing an interception. Senior Rocky Long came up with the pick for Lebanon.
"We were moving the ball, we just didn't put it in the end zone," Vernon said. "I thought both halves were similar, the second half we said we were going to run the ball and we did. We just came up short and that's football."
Lebanon (2-0 overall, 2-0 Ozark Conference) scored both its offensive touchdowns in the second quarter after a scoreless first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Luke Winfrey hooked up with Dylan Bradhaw over the middle for a 19-yard touchdown pass on third-and-nine with 10:29 remaining in the first half.
Junior running back Elza Evans capped a 95-yard drive that saw LHS start at its own 5-yard line with a five-yard score with 3:06 remaining in the half.
But LHS saw its offense sputter in the second half as the 'Jackets went three-plays-and-out on each of its first three possessions. After a two-yard run by junior Jalen Thomas tied the game with 11:16 remaining, the 'Jackets finally put a drive together, and marched the ball deep into Waynesville territory. Winfrey hooked up with senior Austin Knight four times on the drive, including a key pass-and-catch between Winfrey and Knight on fourth-and-one at the Waynesville 16-yard line with 7:13 remaining.
But it was as close as LHS would get. Three straight incomplete passes at the 13 set up a potential game-winning field goal try by Kendrick Tiller, but the sophomore never got a chance as the 'Jackets dropped the snap,
The two teams trade punts as a sack by Lebanon's Johnny Malone ended the Tigers following drive, then Waynesville knocked Winfrey out of the game and forced a Lebanon punt and Waynesville took over its final possession at the Lebanon 15 after a big return by Michael Thompson and a late hit penalty.
Five plays later, Pearcy effectively ended the game.
Up next for Lebanon is rival Camdenton, while Waynesville will play at Kickapoo.