By the end of Friday night, tears fell on the Sterlington High School football field – tears of disbelief, joy and heartbreak.
For Sterlington, it was a thrilling 40-34 victory over defending state champion Madison Prep in the LHSAA Class 3A playoffs.
For Madison Prep, it was the sting of defeat.
Sterlington (13-0) stopped visiting Madison Prep (11-2) in its tracks in overtime, forcing two incomplete passes and two unsuccessful rushing attempts before capping off a thriller with Trammell Colvin's 10-yard rushing touchdown on first down.
The Panthers advance to face Church Point (13-0) in the state semifinals. The Bears beat West Feliciana 28-14 on Friday.
“That was probably the best team in 3A,” junior quarterback Mason Lawhon said of Madison Prep. “I know we’re No. 1 (in the rankings) but we came in as the underdog and that tells you something.”
The Panthers trailed for much of the game, despite opening with Lawhon's 48-yard touchdown pass to Ram Foster seconds into the first quarter.
Sterlington's deficit was 27-14 midway though the third quarter before Lawhon connected with John Barr on a 31-yard TD pass. The Panthers settled in on defense in the fourth, sparked by a stunning one-handed interception by Cole Thompson.
Thompson said he saw the ball was over his head, so he jumped with one hand out in hopes of a breaking up the pass only to see the ball stuck to his hand.
“We’re a second half team,” Thompson said. “We always come out stronger in the second half, we got our momentum going even though we were behind.”
The interception set up Trammell Colvin's 19-yard rush to give Sterlington a 28-27 lead with just over 8 minutes to play.
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“Our guys get behind all the time,” Sterlington coach Lee Doty said. “So, we just go in at halftime, our kids don’t panic, coaches don’t panic, we go out and do what we do.”
This article originally appeared on Monroe News-Star: Sterlington beats Madison Prep in OT, move to LHSAA football Semifinal