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ASHDOWN, Ark. — Ashdown head football coach Matt Richardson calls himself a 2-8 coach.

That was the Panthers' record from the 2019 season.

However, in 2020, Ashdown is better than 2-8. In fact, it's turned into one of the state's most surprising stories.

The Panthers (6-1, 3-1 4A-7 Conference) earned their biggest victory of the season Friday night with a 26-24 win over No. 1 Nashville (4-2, 2-1) at home.

With about 5 minutes left and trailing 24-20, junior quarterback Alex Kielbach threw a 73-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jacolby Williams to give the Panthers a 26-24 lead.

Nashville was in position to win the game late, but a 40-yard field goal attempt by Obed Aguilar went wide left to give Ashdown the victory.

Richardson was relieved to see the Panthers beat the Scrappers.

"Thank Jesus," Richardson said. "Without God, we don't beat them. But every time they scored, our kids countered.

"We got down 24-20. Our kids were like, okay, whatever. Our kids have no quit. They had belief they could win."

Williams caught two touchdown passes from Kielbach for Ashdown. Jonathan McElroy and Jaxon Jester also had rushing touchdowns.

It was Ashdown's first victory over Nashville since 2013.

"It was huge," Richardson said. "I told our kids, this isn't about your or us five coaches. I had texts all day saying, 'Go get 'em!' 'Win it for me.' 'Win it for everybody.'

"This is for everybody that has put on the Ashdown uniform. I told them, you don't understand what it does for the community for the next 365 days. It's our Super Bowl."

Richardson had a 24-hour rule for the Panthers to celebrate the victory over Nashville. The Panthers get back to work this week as they get ready to face Arkadelphia at home Friday.

In a season that's seen every Conference 7-4A team lose, Richardson understands how competitive the league is once again in 2020.

"Every week, you never know who is going to win," Richardson said. "We have a tough game with Arkadelphia. I'm just glad it's another home game for us."

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