There’s nothing like an evenly matched game with playoff spots on the line — other than earning a playoff spot.

There’s nothing like an evenly matched game with playoff spots on the line — other than earning a playoff spot.


Kristen Trammell intercepted a Hot Springs Lakeside pass with 49 seconds left to secure a 14-7 Watson Chapel victory Friday night in his final regular-season home game. The Wildcats (5-4, 5-1 in 5A-South) earned their seventh straight state playoff berth with a No. 1 seed out of the conference still in sight.


"Coach just said ‘win,’" said running back Kevonte Coplin, who scored on a 42-yard run in the second quarter. "We got that win and did our job."


Watson Chapel remains tied atop the 5A-South with Hot Springs, a 38-14 winner Friday over Chapel’s next opponent, Camden Fairview. A win over Fairview and a Lakeside upset of Hot Springs will give the Wildcats their first conference championship since 2010, but a win and Hot Springs victory will give the Wildcats a share of the title and a No. 2 seed.


Not bad for a team that started the season 0-4.


"Our goal each week is to get better," said Wildcats coach Jared Dutton, whose team is enjoying a big turnaround in his first season at the helm. "Our kids are doing that."


Lakeside (4-5, 3-3) isn’t completely out of the playoff picture just yet. The Rams remain in a fourth-place tie with White Hall, which was stunned 27-20 at eliminated Hope on Friday. But they need to win and have De Queen beat White Hall next week to get in.


Trammell’s interception, which he returned for about 20 yards just past midfield, was his second of the night. As he said, there was no better way to cap Senior Night at Wildcat Stadium.


"You’ve got to know what’s at stake, and you just got to know you’ve got to go out there," Trammell said. "Big-time players make big-time plays, and that’s what it was."


The Wildcats and Rams were tied at 7-7 at intermission. Tray Cole made two carries to make up a 58-yard go-ahead drive with 9:40 left, dashing 47 yards for the touchdown.


Lakeside melted nearly 6 minutes off the clock on its next possession, but after 12 plays covering 59 yards, fullback Colt Housley was stopped a yard short of a first down on fourth-and-2. Watson Chapel went three-and-out, and Lakeside gained a first down three plays later. But on second-and-10, Clint Smedley overthrew his receiver and Trammell saved the evening for the Wildcats.


Coplin broke a 42-yard touchdown dash with 6:46 left in the second quarter to even the game at 7-7. That came after he fumbled a reception that was scooped up by Tucker Pratt and returned 52 yards for the touchdown.


It was also the third consecutive play the Wildcats fumbled the ball.


"I had a chance to redeem myself," Coplin said.


Dutton said he doesn’t feed Coplin the ball enough — even when Coplin keeps asking about it.


"I’m going to find more ways to get him the ball," Dutton said.


Grant Gaston pushed a 28-yard field goal attempt wide left that would have given Lakeside the lead with 40 seconds left before halftime.


Cole had 53 yards on three carries, Travion Woods rushed seven times for 39 yards, and Roger Totten II and Jaylen Jackson combined to throw 5 of 13 for 63 yards for the Wildcats. Cole also had 46 yards on two catches.


Watson Chapel had a 209-179 edge in total yards.


"Our defense is playing great," Dutton said. "Offense didn’t play great again, but we’re going to find ways to put more points on the board and take some pressure off the defense. As we talked about in the pregame, championship teams find a way to win, and that’s what we did."