COLDWATER — The Little River High School football team played one of its best games of the season Friday night in a 27-20 loss at South Central in the 8 Man-I playoffs. The game was back-and-forth from start to finish, but a late fourth-quarter South Central touchdown ended the Little River season on a heartbreaking note.

“Friday night’s game was a tough one to swallow as a coach because the kids rose to the challenge and took on that challenge head on and just came up short,” Little River head coach Chad Lafferty said. “We challenged the team at halftime to leave everything on the field in the second half, and as a coach I couldn’t have been prouder because they did exactly that throughout the rest of the game.”

It was a game of runs as there were six different lead changes in the game. Unfortunately for Little River, the final lead change was the dagger.

“We had many opportunities to get the momentum and it just seemed like we couldn’t sustain it,” Lafferty said. “We would have a seven to eight minute drive and score, and then we would give up a big play and they would take back the lead just like that.”

Peyton Harvey opened the scoring in the second quarter, connecting with Levi Swenson from 50 yards for the touchdown. South Central (9-1) responded with passing touchdowns of 46 and 58 yards to take a 13-6 lead into halftime.

Swenson gave Little River the lead once more, scoring on a one-yard rushing touchdown. Graham Stephens ran the two-point conversion in, giving Little River a 14-13 lead.

But South Central struck back, once more on a big play, this time a 65-yard run before the third quarter ended. Stephens put Little River back on top with a one-yard rushing touchdown for a 20-19 lead, but too much time was left on the clock for South Central to go and win the ball game. An eight-yard touchdown led the Timberwolves to the 27-20 win.

Little River says goodbye to a very talented senior class. In their four years, the seniors compiled a 23-17 record and made the playoffs in three of those years.

“Our seniors will be greatly missed next year as some of those kids have been key players for us the past few seasons,” Lafferty said. “We had a very good class of seniors who knew how to play the game and hopefully our underclassman can take what they have accomplished and build upon it in the future.”

Little River was 7-3 on the season, including a 5-0 record in the Wheat State League.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel