CONWAY — All it took was one play to ruin all of the momentum Warren built in the second half.
Down 14-12 at halftime, Warren scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 25-14 lead with 4:44 left. But Shiloh Christian put a quick score on the board with a 46-yard pass, forced a three-and-out and scored the game-winning touchdown with 42 seconds left to steal a 26-25 victory on Monday night in the Hootens.com Kickoff Week game.
Warren’s two touchdowns in the fourth quarter came from running back Kilay Cox, who broke a 15-yarder with 10:07 left and scored on a 1-yard run later in the quarter. Cox finished with 304 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns.
Cox’s monster game was overshadowed by the final score, though.
“The offensive line gave me the holes to run through,” he said. “We had the game won, but the defense didn’t extend the game like we should have. I am happy with my 300 yards, but I would’ve been even happier with the win.”
After Cox’s second touchdown, it only took the Saints four plays to drive 65 yards for the ensuing score. Shiloh Christian quarterback Casey Paraday hit Ryan Michaelis for a 46-yard touchdown. Michaelis, who finished with nine catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns, was able to get behind Warren’s safeties for the score.
“Tell them not to let anyone behind them, and they let someone behind them,” Warren coach Bo Hembree said. “That got them back in it. You can’t do that. We made some mistakes.”
Michaelis said his team was reading Warren’s safeties the whole game.
“Casey just threw that ball perfectly and we knew their safeties came up every once in a while,” he said. “We just took advantage on that one play.”
Warren went three-and-out its next possession and the Lumberjack’s punt went all the way down to the Saints’ 13-yard line with 2:04 left.
On the second play on the possession, Paraday hit fullback Chandler Smith on a screen pass that Warren overcommitted on and he took it to the 48-yard line. That was the third time Shiloh Christian got Warren to overcommit on the screen play in the game.
“They do a good job of running those and we knew that going in,” Hembree said. “They were able to execute them.”
Paraday later hit Michaelis for a 21-yard pass to get the ball to Warren’s 15 and then found Michaelis in the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown strike.
Michaelis was well-covered by Warren’s Dey’shawn McRae, who had a shot at the ball, but Michaelis came down with it.
“It was right in between us and I had to pull it down in the end,” Michaelis said.
Shiloh Christian took advantage of good field position on its second drive as the Saints started on Warren’s 44-yard line. On the sixth play, Smith caught a screen pass, and went in for the 13-yard touchdown on third-and-10.
It took Warren two possessions to respond, but Cox broke free for a 91-yard touchdown run and Warren trailed 7-6 in the first quarter. Cox had 196 yards by halftime on nine carries.
But the Saints responded right away with a 92-yard kickoff return from Matthew Soloman for the 14-6 lead.
Warren got its second score with 9:55 left in the half when Drake Jones found Chris Oliver over the middle of the field for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The Saints threatened on the next possession as as they drove to Warren’s 29-yard line. Then Kendrick Newton tipped a pass on second-and-10, came through the line on a blitz and sacked Paraday on third down, and Shiloh Christian had to punt.
Warren drove to the Saints’ 35-yard line but the drive stalled and when Jones dropped back to pass on fourth down, the ball was knocked out of his hands and Shiloh recovered at Warren’s 48-yard line with 3:32 left in the half.
The Saints drove down to the 18-yard line, but a run for no gain, an overthrown pass and tight coverage by McRae forced a 35-yard field goal by Seung Jae Lee, who pushed it wide right for the 14-12 halftime score.
Jones rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries and was 11 for 21 with two interceptions, 94 yards and a touchdown for Warren. Oliver caught four passes for 42 yards and a touchdown and Kendrick Newton had one sack and 11 tackles. Calyx Harris added 11 tackles, one sack and forced one fumble.
Warren will have to rebound in time for its next game as it hosts Pulaski Academy on Sept. 7.
“Our first three games our tough and we have to go back and get better at what we are doing,” Hembree said.