By ROBERT TURBERVILLE
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PINE BLUFF — The team that wants to call itself "The Bright Light Boys" is headed to a playoff semifinal game for the third consecutive year.
The Watson Chapel Wildcats used a strong performance from their defense and another big game by Kyle Coleman to beat the Greenbrier Panthers 47-24 in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
Watson Chapel (9-3) advanced to the semifinals, where it will play Camden Fairview for the second time this season. The Cardinals defeated Alma 28-21 Friday to earn the trip to Watson Chapel next week. Camden Fairview beat Watson Chapel 37-36 in Week 3 in Camden.
"Our senior group has been to the semis the last two years. They know the length of the journey," Watson Chapel coach George Shelton said. "This is not foreign territory to them to be in a game like this.
"The lights got bright. We’re trying to have confidence about bright lights. We want to call ourselves ‘The Bright Light Boys.’ The cameras are here, the lights are on, and it’s time for action."
In the first half alone, Watson Chapel’s defense held on fourth down three times, intercepted a pass in the end zone, recovered a fumble and had three sacks, taking an 18-0 lead into halftime. They held Greenbrier’s no-huddle spread on fourth down twice more in the fourth quarter.
"They’re faster than most defenses that we played and really did good job of making things hard on us," said Greenbrier coach Randy Tribble, whose team finished the year 9-3. "My hat goes off to them. They played great defense.
"We knew they had faster people than we’ve been playing and we were going to have to really execute. It’s hard to get ready to execute against that speed when you can’t practice against it."
Coleman, a son of former University of Central Arkansas and Washington Redskin star Monte Coleman and the player Tribble said worried him the most coming into the game, threw a touchdown pass, ran for two scores and intercepted a pass on defense.
The Wildcats never trailed. They got a 47-yard field goal from Collin Massanelli to take a 3-0 lead with 5:16 left in the first quarter.
Coleman intercepted Neal Burcham’s pass in the end zone on the ensuing possession after Greenbrier’s Joseph Oluokun returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Watson Chapel 25. That seemed to set the tone for the Wildcats, Shelton said.
"Our defense without a doubt did a great job," Shelton said. "They had some big shots on the other end. Kyle had a big interception early in the first half which provided us with a tremendous amount of confidence in what we were doing defensively. It looked like we picked up steam from the first interception that we made."
Coleman’s 10-yard TD run with 6:58 left in the second quarter gave Watson Chapel a 10-0 lead.
On Watson Chapel’s next possession, Coleman threw a 23-yard pass to Lane down to the 11, and Aaron Lagrone scored three plays later on a 1-yard run to make it 18-0 with 3:02 left in the half.
Coleman threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Mitch Lane with 6:19 left in the third quarter, then ran in the conversion on a fake extra-point attempt for a 26-8 lead.
Marquis Handley’s 1-yard run gave the Wildcats a 40-16 lead with 4:55 to play.
Lagrone had a 64-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left.
Greenbrier, whose season ended in the semifinals last season, scored a touchdown on the final play of the game when Hunter Winston ran 17 yards. Burcham’s two-point conversion pass to Seth Peters set the final score.
Burcham had two touchdown passes in the game — a 15-yard pass to Peters and a 44-yard pass to Winston in the third quarter.