Vilonia – Beebe quarterback Alex Boyce was sacked as time expired with the Badgers on the verge of scoring the potential game winning touchdown allowing Vilonia to escape with an exhilarating 42-36 victory at Eagles Stadium.
It was just one of many key plays that enabled Todd Langrell to collect his first win at Vilonia and help his Eagles stave off a spirited last ditch comeback from their nearby rival.
Vilonia (1-2) built a late 42-28 cushion following Draven Smith’s 2-yard run and appeared to have the game tucked away with only two minutes left to play.
The Eagles clinching score came as they lined up for a crucial 4th-and-16 from the Beebe 46.
Vilonia quarterback Jordan Britton fired a pass intended for Reed Saddler down the middle of the field in hopes of completing a pass that would virtually salt the game away, but instead was able to induce a pass interference call on Badgers safety Hayden Howard.
After Howard was flagged for the infraction, both defensive tackle Cade Harlin and Beebe head coach were both whistled separately for unsportsmanlike penalties in arguing the call which set Vilonia up inside the Badgers five-yard line where Smith would convert the eventual winning score.
But talented Beebe took less than a minute to respond with Alex Boyce finding the end zone from a few yards out a few plays after his brother Taylor returned the ensuing kickoff to the Vilonia 35.
With 42 seconds left, the Badgers recovered the ensuing onside kick and quickly regained possession of the ball.
The Vilonia defense stood tall with the contest on the line as they would pressure Alex Boyce into incomplete passes on two consecutive attempts to Luke Oakley and Taylor Boyce.
And then on the game's final play, Alex Boyce was swarmed under by several Vilonia defenders as time expired allowing the Eagles to withstand Beebe's furious late rally.
“The town of Vilonia and our football team needed this.” Langrell said. “Our kids overcame some adversity and found a way to win. We are hoping it will be the first of many. I think our kids prepared really well this week and this is the result.”
The Vilonia defense turned in a few more big plays in key moments during the course of the game.
Vilonia’s Jake Goff snuffed out a late Beebe possession at the Eagles’ 19 by batting down a 3rd-and-11 pass with 5:15 remaining and his team clinging to a 34-29 lead.
Beebe was then forced to settle for a 35-yard Daniel Martinez field goal.
Goff also factored in on another key defensive play earlier in the contest as he blocked Martinez’s PAT attempt following a 51-yard run by Taylor Boyce gave Beebe their first lead of the night 20-14.
The night's biggest momentum swing may have come when Smith – in at safety on defense – scooped up an Alex Boyce fumble and raced 59 yards for a touchdown to help Vilonia regain the lead 21-20.
“Our defensive line did a good job of smashing through, forced the ball to pop out of his hands so I saw my opportunity to make a play to get us the lead and that’s what I did.” Smith said. “It means a lot to win games like this after coming from two losing seasons where we very rarely scored. That gives us hope for the next week and the next week going forward. We just need to keep it up.”
Britton threw four touchdown passes and finished with 102 passing yards for Vilonia.
Koonce caught three passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns while Saddler racked up 88 yards on six catches and a touchdown for the Eagles.
“Our running game set up our pass tonight and I thought Coach Sweeney's play calling was great.” Koonce said. “Our fans deserved a win tonight because they give us so much support.”
Beebe's Taylor Boyce rushed for a game-high 242 yards and three touchdowns in a losing cause.