HARRISBURG — Harrisburg coach Jason Roper told his team the last three weeks of the regular season needed to be treated like playoff games if his club wanted to make the postseason.
The Bulldogs were able to get a much needed 27-20 win over Murphysboro Friday night to keep their playoff hopes alive for now.
Daniel Lewis broke a tie with a 5-yard touchdown run in the final minute to lift the Bulldogs (4-3, 3-1 SIRR Ohio) to the win.
“We’ve got a good group of kids and they kind of showed tonight their character at the end by finishing the drive and getting that score,” Roper said. “Coming off a loss, I think our kids bounced back and showed character.”
After trailing 20-6 in the second half, Murphysboro battled back to tie things on Austin Hoppenstedt’s third touchdown of the night with 7:17 to play.
Hoppenstedt finished with 12 carries for 64 yards. Teammate Aeian Baird added nearly 70 yards on the ground.
“Our kids didn’t lay down,” said Murphysboro coach Gary Carter. “I feel for our kids. Our kids are hurting right now, the coaching staff is hurting. You put a bunch of time into it and take it personally and we just didn’t get it done.”
Sophomore Noah Vallette got his first varsity win at quarterback for Harrisburg, filling in for the injured Sykes Thompson for the second straight week.
It was Vallette’s interception on defense that sealed any hopes of a Murphysboro comeback on the Red Devils final drive.
Harrisburg senior Jarren Goldman rushed for two scores and nearly 100 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter with an injury.
A majority of Lewis’ 83 rushing yards came on the final drive that milked six minutes off the clock.
Harrisburg closes the regular season with road games at Herrin and Carbondale. Murphysboro (3-4, 2-2) hosts Benton next week before closing the year at Du Quoin.