Larkin holds on for 1-point win over Bartlett

Larkin survived.

In a sloppy game for both teams, the Royals made just enough big plays to hold off Bartlett, 21-20, in an Upstate Eight matchup in Bartlett.

Dontain Williams scored for Bartlett to make it 21-20 with 5:29 to play, but Larkin's interior line blocked the extra point attempt to maintain the lead.

The Royals then drove to the Hawks' 21-yard line before turning it over on downs. But the Royals' defense came up big on the next series, stopping Williams for a 1-yard gain on fourth-and-three at the Bartlett 31.

Larkin was able to run the clock down to 40 seconds, giving the Hawks one more chance from their 26 with no timeouts left.

An interference penalty and a 20-yard completion from Giovanni Nguyen to Jalen Davis got the Hawks into Larkin territory, but Nguyen's Hail Mary attempt was batted down at the final buzzer.

Larkin scored all its points in the second quarter. Chevelle Clements scored on runs of 9 and 1 yards, and Jalen Miller added a 6-yarder. Clements' second TD was set up by Timothy Scott III's interception return to the 1-yard line.

The teams combined for 3 interceptions, 3 lost fumbles, and 245 penalty yards.

"We make it so hard on ourselves at times," said Larkin coach Grant Dietz. "We've just got to do the little things better, stay the course, and know that we haven't played our best football."

Larkin (4-3, 4-3) moved one step closer to playoff eligibility.

Bartlett moved the ball in the first half but scored only once - on Nguyen's 38-yard strike to Jacob Caradine.

The Hawks (4-3, 4-3) got within 1 score after halftime on a scoop-and-score by Ravi Banipal. An interception by Marco Incandela set up Williams' score midway through the fourth quarter.

Nguyen completed 14 of 27 passes for 138 yards.

Although the Royals didn't always find the end zone, they were able to control the clock for large chunks of the game with their ground attack.

Clements finished with exactly 100 yards on 22 carries, Miller had 42 and Kevin Malone added 28.

With a fourth win under their belts, the Royals will take it.

"We've just got to keep playing through all of the adversity that we have," Dietz said, "Whether it's created by ourselves or anything else."

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