Kenny Chambers had the will to win and 21 yards to go.
He caught only caught two passes in Willard’s thrilling 48-42 win on the road at Bolivar, but they were both touchdowns. His first was a 58-yard catch, the second was a 21-yard touchdown catch in overtime. Chambers juked around two Bolivar defenders to find the right side of the end zone and give Willard the win.
Chambers also had a 13-yard interception return for a touchdown. If he could get the ball in his hands, he was gone.
Willard trailed Bolivar by as many as 16 points, but Chambers credited Tigers coach Brock Roweton’s ability to chew out his team at halftime for inspiring a comeback.
“(Roweton) said practice would have not been fun. We did not want that, so we just came out and played our hearts out,” Chambers said.
Willard scored 22 points in the third quarter, but Bolivar answered with an 84-yard fourth quarter drive capped with a five-yard pass from Connor Sechler to Brandon Emmert to force overtime.
“It was hard, very, very hard, but we just kept fighting,” Chambers said. “Our offense came out and just played as a team.”
Overtime ended with Willard linebacker Christian Smart making two sacks on Bolivar’s final four downs.
“We told our guys, ‘hey, if you get a stop or a turnover, the game is over,’ and we had some guys really step up in big moments,” Roweton said.
The Liberators’ offense proved tough to slow with Sechler going 20-of-34 passing for 320 and three touchdowns. Lane Loomer rushed 37 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Emmert had nine receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Still, Roweton implored his defensive players to keep up the fight.
“The team has two weeks in a row battled for four quarters, and I cannot be any more proud. We as a coaching staff cannot be any more proud of the overall effort,” Roweton said. “Bolivar is really skilled; they are a matchup nightmare.”
Nate Swadley paced Willard’s offense with 103 yards on 20 carries. Brock Howard scored a total of three touchdowns, one on a 52-yard pass from Quintin Batson on Willard’s first offensive play of the game.
Batson, a transfer from Central, continues to develop chemistry with his new receivers, as evidenced by the overtime pass to Chambers. Batson and Chambers were friends before Batson moved to Willard.
“We’ve had chemistry for a while. Now we’re getting together. It’s nothing really new, I’ve known (Batson) since he was little,” Chambers said.
Bolivar plays its next two games on the road, first Sept. 2 at Reeds Spring and then at Hollister Sept. 9. Willard plays its home opener Sept. 2 against Neosho, then visits perennial powerhouse Webb City Sept. 9. Both games start at 7 p.m.
Willard 48, Bolivar 42
At Plaster Stadium, Southwest Baptist University
Willard—Brock Howard 52-yard pass from Quintin Batson (kick failed)
Bolivar—Lane Loomer 16-yard run (kick failed)
Bolivar—Brandon Emmert 8-yard pass from Connor Sechler (Mason Payne pass from Sechler)
Bolivar—Loomer 4-yard run (Jack Hadank kick)
Willard—Brock Howard 4-yard run (pass failed)
Bolivar—Mason Payne 6-yard pass from Sechler (Emmert pass from Sechler)
Willard–Batson 18-yard run (Nate Swadley kick)
Willard—Kenny Chambers 13-yard interception return (run failed)
Willard—Kenny Chambers 58-yard pass from Batson (Ethan Burson pass from Batson)
Bolivar—Conley Garrison 34-yard pass from Sechler (Emmert pass from Sechler)
Willard—Howard 29-yard pass from Batson (Swadley run)
Bolivar—Emmert 5-yard pass from Sechler (pass failed)
Willard—Chambers 21-yard pass from Batson (run failed)