Phillips made one clutch play after another in the fourth quarter as Westside held on for a wild homecoming win over Harlem, 20-18.
The Patriots (4-2, 1-1 Region 3-AA) stopped a two-game losing streak, notched a key victory for their postseason hopes. And the team can point to Phillips and his late-game play.
In the fourth quarter alone, the junior blocked an extra point to keep Westside up one. Later, he recovered a Harlem fumble. But Phillips saved his best for the waning moments.
After a Jalen Lampkin 12-yard touchdown pass to Mason Dodd extended the Westside lead to eight with 4:23 to go, Harlem bounced back as it did all game. Quarterback Hunter Rippe engineered an 11-play, 63-yard scoring drive. Rippe’s 8-yard pass to Cody Bates in the end zone on fourth down pulled the Bulldogs within two with 1:01 remaining. On the two-point try, Westside’s Tulo Onigbanjo got pressure up the middle and Phillips picked off Rippe’s pass.
Harlem then recovered the onside kick and appeared to be in business again. Rippe completed a pass for an apparent first down to Jonathan Worrell at the 30. But Phillips came through one more time, ripping the ball away from Worrell to preserve the Westside win.
“We were getting our butts kicked and I was tired of it,” Phillips said. “I wasn’t going to lose homecoming again.”
Harlem (4-2, 0-2) amassed 310 yards of total offense, but three lost fumbles proved to be the difference.
“We hurt ourselves with a few fumbles, but I’m real proud of them,” Harlem coach Jimmie Lewis said. “They gave it everything they had. Westside played a heck of a football game, too.”
Austin Burt led Harlem with 120 rushing yards on 24 carries with a touchdown, while Rippe threw for 104 yards and a score.
DeMarcus Vaughn led Westside with 72 yards on nine rushes with two scores.