For the first time all season, the Gainesville Leopards trailed in a game, but in the end it wouldn't matter.
The Leopards improved their record to 4-0 with a come-from-behind 28-20 win over the Springtown Porcupines Friday night.
The Leopards trailed 17-14 at halftime, but two big plays in the second half propelled them to a victory.
Denzel Johnson hit David Moorewith a 24-yard TD pass to put the Leopards up 21-17 late in the third quarter.
The Leopard defense then came up big as Springtown drove to the Leopard 2-yard line, but Gainesville held on fourth-and-goal and took over at their own 4-yard line.
Gainesville moved the ball out to the 16 when Johnson scrambled 84-yards for a touchdown that would turn out to be the margin of victory.
Springtown then used a 13-play drive to get a 37-yard field goal to make it 28-20, but Gainesville's defense made another late stand to seal the victory.
The game started well for the Leopards as on the third play of the game, Jacob Royal intercepted a Springtown pass.
The Leopards took over at the Porcupine 47 yard line and used six plays to go down the field and score. Johnson hit Chris White on a big 27-yard pass on third down to keep the drive alive. Three plays later, Jonathan Mendez swept left and ran into the end zone untouched. Hector Sagrero added the PAT kick to make it 7-0.
On Springtown's next possession, Royal again intercepted a pass to give the ball right back to the Leopards, but they couldn't capitalize on the turnover and had to punt.
The Porcupines then put together a 17-play, 91-yard drive to tie the score. The longest play on the drive was a 16-yard quarterback scramble. The final four yards came on a pass from Colby Moore to Javier Reynoso that tied the game 7-7 with 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Leopards moved the ball into Springtown territory on their next possession thanks to a 27-yard run by Adam Berryman, but a fumble on fourth-and-two from the Porcupine 45-yard line ended the drive.
Springtown took their time driving 31 yards to take their first lead, but it didn't come without a bit of controversy. On the second play of the drive, Colby Moore tried to complete a pass that was knocked up in the air. The quarterback caught the ball himself and quickly threw it to the ground where it was scooped up by DeQuan Wilford and returned down the sideline. Gainesville coaches argued that it should have been a complete pass and a fumble, but officials ruled that the quarterback never had possession and simply knocked the ball to the ground. On the drive, the Porcupines completed a 13-yard pass on fourth-and-six to keep the drive alive. Five plays later, Moore hit Tyler Robertson with a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 and give Gainesville their first deficit of the season.
The Leopards answered right back with a seven-play drive. Berryman got the drive started with a 25-yard run. On third down, a facemask penalty moved the ball into Springtown territory. Johnson then hit Moore with a 34-yard pass, but an ineligible receiver downfield penalty brought the play back. But on the next play, Johnson scrambled 25 yards for a first down. On the next play, Johnson hit a wide-open Moore in the end zone for a 17-yard TD to make it 14-14 with 3:18 remaining in the half.
Two plays later, the Leopards got another interception, this time by Wilford to give the Leopards the ball at the SHS 42. But Gainesville was only able to move the ball to the 37 before turning it over on downs with 31 seconds remaining.
Springtown then got two first downs and on the final play of the half, Reynoso hit a 52-yard field goal to put the home team ahead 17-14 at the half.
Gainesville finished the night with 362 yards of total offense including 259 on the ground and 103 through the air. Johnson was the leading rusher with 135 yards on 11 carries, while Berryman added 108 yards on 19 carries. Johnson was 8 of 16 passing for 103 yards and 2 touchdowns. Springtown had 103 yards rushing and 176 passing.
NOTES: Gainesville is now 3-2 all-time against Springtown, but this was their first win in Springtown. The Leopards and Porcupines played four times from 1988 to 1991 with the home team winning each time … The Leopard roster was already thinned by injuries, but defensive back Keenon Blacklock went down with an injury early in the game and did not return ... Springtown defeated Decatur earlier this season. Decatur was picked by many to win District 9-3A, which includes Gainesville.