Joel Polk sort of whiffed on his first tackle attempt on Thursday afternoon against West Philadelphia.
The Overbrook senior linebacker's last tackle, however, helped the Panthers beat the Speedboys, 22-20, in an overtime victory that gave Overbrook its second straight Turkey Bowl victory between the West Philadelphia schools.
"This win means everything to me," said Polk, who also stars at running back. "I look at this like it's the biggest game ever. This is my last game, and I knew I had to go out with a bang."
After West Philly quarterback Anre Caldwell hit Isaiah Maples for an 8-yard touchdown in overtime, the Speedboys needed a two-point conversion to extend the game.
Zackariah Payton, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound fullback, had already forced his way through the Panthers line for the tying conversion with 8 seconds left in regulation.
"We knew they'd been feeding the fullback down at the goal line, and he's big, pretty tough," Polk said. "My coach [Rendell Ivory] said, 'Shoot!' And that means everybody's coming, and we're rolling to either get that ball or get that man."
Payton pounded, but the Panthers stopped him short of the end zone, ending the game and beginning a victorious chant:
"Who runs the West Side? We run the West Side!"
Clifford Brinkley, a senior defensive back, appeared to get there first, but in the scrum that ensued were Polk, senior defensive lineman Nasir Devore, and several others.
It was an ironic bookend to a game that began with Overbrook's botched pregame entrance.
Polk and fellow senior Jonathan Hodges both stumbled as they tried to break through an orange paper banner held by Overbrook's cheerleaders near the entrance to the field.
The banner didn't break. Polk stumbled, and Hodges fell on the ground and then nearly got trampled by a stampede of Panthers.
Polk finished with 105 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. On defense, he finished with 10 tackles, a sack, and a pass deflection.
Devore added a sack, recovered a fumble, and forced a fourth-quarter fumble.
Brinkley, who also stars at wide receiver, made an improbable touchdown catch on a fade route while triple-teamed on a fourth-down play from the 10-yard line with 6 minutes, 17 seconds remaining.
"Nobody in this league can guard that man," Polk said.
Overbrook (2-9) held a 14-6 edge after the ensuing conversion attempt failed.
In response, a 1-yard touchdown run by West Philly's Kenny Jones capped an 11-play, 61-yard drive that began with 2:06 remaining. Payton added the two-point conversion with 8 seconds left.
Caldwell led the Speedboys (1-8) with two touchdown passes. His first-half touchdown pass to Cameron Clements, which came after he was nearly sacked, went for 19 yards and led to an 8-6 Overbrook lead at halftime.
Polk's rough-and-tumble 3-yard touchdown run in overtime led to his game-winning two-point run up the middle.
"All I do is hard-nosed football," Polk said. "That's all I know."
Overbrook 0 8 0 6 8 - 22
West Philadelphia 0 6 0 8 6 - 20
O: Karim Dixon 3 run (Joel Polk run)
W: Cameron Clements 19 pass from Anre Caldwell (run failed)
O: Clifford Brinkley 10 pass from Dixon (run failed)
W: Kenny Jones 1 run (Zackariah Payton run)
O: Polk 3 run (Polk run)
W: Isaiah Maples 8 pass from Caldwell (run failed)