Rushing attack leads Whitewater past Union Grove 60-28
by Dylan Hynson
It had been a while since the Whitewater Wildcats saw their home scoreboard light up with as many points as they saw Friday Night. The Wildcats put on a rushing attack clinic as they took care of Union Grove 60-28.
“I’m very proud of our kids and the way they played,” head coach Brian Holley said. “They came out, and they played hard.”
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to get ahead on the scoreboard as junior running back Jamal Jenkins took a long run back to the house for a quick score in the first two minutes of the game. Whitewater decided to go for two as senior quarterback Stone Kasten ran the ball through the defense to make it 8-0 Whitewater. The defense stepped up with a blocked punt on the next drive and were in business again at the Wolverine six. Two plays later, senior running back Musa Ali scored from five yards out, and it was quickly 15-0 Wildcats with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
Union Grove put up a decent second drive, converting on two third downs, but still was forced to punt. The punt team did down the ball at the Wildcat one, and got the ball right back on an interception, giving the Wolverines a great opportunity to cut the lead in half. The Wildcat defense stepped up and forced a fourth down, and were not fooled by a fake field goal as senior linebacker Tyler Crowder stopped the fake short and gave the ball back to Wildcat offense.
“The defense stepped up in a major way tonight,” Holley said. “I’m really proud of the boys for their performance, especially in the first half.”
It only took three plays on the next drive to get Whitewater back on the board as Ali ran 40 yards with no one touching him to give Whitewater another score. Another two-point conversion gave the Cats a 23-0 lead early in the second quarter. After the defense forced an interception near their own goal line, junior Nolan Wallace got into the mix as he scored on a long touchdown run to increase the Wildcat lead to 31-0 after yet another two-point conversion. Five minutes later, senior running back Isaiah Montgomery scored his first touchdown of the night to further the Wildcats lead to 38-0 with 2:41 to go in the half.
“They are all doing a tremendous job for us,” Holley said about his team’s running backs. “We had some great blocks that sprung some holes, but most of what they do is on their own. They’ve done a great job.”
The Wildcats looked like they were going to pitch a shutout in the first half, especially after picking off another pass with only seconds left in the half. However, a questionable pass interference was called and the drive continued for the Wolverines. Three plays later, Devin Tumlin caught a pass on the final play of the half and ran around several defenders on his way to scoring Union Grove’s first points.
“We gave up one there at the end of the first half,” Holley said. “You never want to see that as a coach. We just had some people out of position and laid down a little bit.”
With a running clock to begin the half, Union Grove knew they must score early and often if they had any chance to come back. On their first drive, freshman quarterback Jordan Reynolds found Austin Atkins on a wide open pass for a long touchdown reception to make it a 24-point game with 8:09 left in the third quarter. Even with the newfound momentum for Union Grove, Whitewater pushed on as Kasten found sophomore receiver Hunter Williams wide open to push the lead to 45-14. The game went back and forth from that point, both teams scoring a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game to rest with the Wildcats winning 60-28.
“I think whenever you get a lead like that, you are going to relax a little bit,” Holley said. “We challenged our kids at halftime to finish, and they responded well to it.”
The Wildcats start the young season 1-0 behind their dominant rushing attack that gained 90 percent of the yardage for the entire team with 473 yards on the ground. Ali lead the way in rushing with 8 carries for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns. Another name that shined was Montgomery, who had 7 carries for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“[Ali and Montgomery] didn’t run the football at all last season,” Holley said. “Right now, what we’re asking them to do, they are doing a tremendous job. They run the ball very hard and well.”
The Wildcat rushing dominance will look to continue next week as they take on Hampton on the road, with kickoff at 7:30 p.m Friday Night.
“[Hampton] is a good football team,” Holley said. “Very well coached, and they are a new football team, but they are doing good things over there. It’s going to be a tough ball game for us. We’re going to be tested.”
McIntosh battles adversity in 24-21 win over Mt. Zion
by Christopher Dunn
Playing on toughness and resolve, the McIntosh Chiefs pushed through adversity, holding off a second half rally to beat the Mt. Zion Bulldogs 24-21 on the road Thursday night.
The night started with as much promise as possible, but the road turned rocky early on. Two quick touchdowns staked the team to a lead, but the starting quarterback would be lost to injury on the third series of the night. The Chiefs did not shy away from the challenge. The team circled the wagons and battled on.
McIntosh got the game off to a scalding-hot start. On the first play from scrimmage, Zach Sanders hit Kyle Riesselmann streaking over the top of the defense for a 73-yard touchdown. After the defense forced a three and out, Sanders hit Riesselmann over the middle for a 50-yard catch and run on the second offensive play. Before the Bulldogs could blink, they were down 14-0.
The euphoria took a hit on McIntosh’s third offensive play when Sanders took a big hit, hurting his throwing shoulder. He would try to stick it out, but the pain was too much, and he would leave the game. After connecting with Riesslmann twice for 123 yards and two scores, it would be Riesselmann who would have to step in at quarterback and lead the way.
“That’s what mental toughness is. The chips are down, but you keep plugging,” said McIntosh coach Lee Belknap. “We talk about stand-in-the-gap leadership. I want these guys to know what that is now and and when they’re 25, 35, and 45-years-old. They stood in the gap tonight for a teammate.”
The defense would stand strong in the first half to maintain the momentum. Alex Seymour and Ben Bryant combined for a sack to force a three and out right after the injury. Early in the second quarter, the Bulldogs would drive into the red zone, but the defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt that sailed wide.
McIntosh got on the board again on their next possession, Riesselmann converting a third and long with a 23-yard run on an option keeper. Bradley Ector did the rest, scorching the defense for a 57-yard touchdown for a 21-0 lead.
De’Andre Wade ended Mt. Zion’s next drive with a spectacular leaping interception ripping the ball away from the receiver. Penalties and miscues would waste the great field position, and a blocked punt would see the Bulldogs scoop it up and run to the house to narrow the gap to 21-7 at halftime.
Mt. Zion cut into the margin further early in the second half. On a brilliantly executed misdirection, their quarterback rolled to his left, pivoted, and threw back to a receiver streaking underneath to the right. He would haul it in and race for a 59-yard touchdown.
Ector would nearly take the following kickoff back to the house, using second and third efforts to race 88 yards to the Bulldog 11. A big sack on third down would force the Chiefs to settle for a 37-yard Jake Donaldson field goal for a 24-14 lead.
Mt. Zion answered quickly, scrambling for 40 yards on their next play as part of an 80-yard scoring drive. A 4th and 9 conversion would later lead to an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it a 24-21 game with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
The Chief offense got their best push early in the fourth quarter. Starting past midfield on a long Danile Blair kickoff return, Riesselmann would pick up a pair of first downs through the air. The drive ended with an interception inside the red zone. Trey Williams would help kill the ensuing Bulldog possession with a sack.
Mt. Zion got two more desperation attempts to try to take the lead. Past midfield halfway through the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs thought they had converted a 4th and five, but were whistled for too many men on the field. Fourth and long would result in a scramble short of the chains. On their final drive, they would make it to midfield again, but when they tried to bomb it over the top, safety Zach Anderson went up and came down with the game-clinching interception.
“Everyday we talk about what a great team sport this is. We’ve got guys in the locker room tipping their hat to their teammates. You can’t just do it to one guy. The list goes on and on,” said Belknap, praising the total team effort. “We like to say on 210 Walt Banks Rd. that the guy in the green helmet got the job done, and I’m just very proud to be part of it.”
Zach Sanders finished the night completing two passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Kyle Riesselmann caught both balls. Riesselmann also went five for seven passing for 43 yards and interception in relief of Sanders. Bradley Ector rushed for 78 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries.
McIntosh will look to run their record to 3-0 when they travel to play Henry County this Friday night.
Fayette County settles for 6-6 tie
by Russell Cooks
The Fayette County Tigers could not close out the Chapel Hill Panthers in a non-region home opener on Friday night. The Tigers led in every way until the last six minutes of the game, as they ended up settling for a tie. The final score was 6-6, and the total yardage was 211-211.
Fayette County was leading 6-0 with the ball on the Panthers six yard line with seven minutes to play. Instead of closing the game out, Chapel Hill was able to block a 32-yard field goal attempt and then marched 90 yards to tie the score at 6-6. The Tigers didn’t hang their heads. They charged through and blocked what would have been the winning extra point to preserve the tie.
The game started out slow as both teams traded a series three and outs. The Panthers were able to get a sustained drive going during their fourth possession, however, Fayette’s James Hawkins was able to stop the drive on an interception at the Tiger 10.
Quarterback Anthonie Powell finally got things going for the Tigers, but two times in a row when he converted a first down, they were nullified by a penalty or a dropped pass. After another three and out by Chapel Hill, Fayette finally got it together. Powell ran for 15 yards, then he connected with Reggie Booker on a 15-yard pass. One the very next play, Jalil Dabney scored on a 62-yard run. Dabney broke free around the left end, and, as the Chapel Hill players shut off the sideline, he cut it back inside and dragged multiple Panther defenders into the end zone. The extra point hit the upright and bounced back into the field of play. With six minutes left in the first half, Fayette led 6-0.
Chapel Hill’s quarterback Jadon Walker scrambled for a couple of first downs, but Noah Alford, Malcolm Easterwood, or Jamal Bass would make a defensive play to stop the Panther’s momentum as Fayette’s 6-0 lead held into halftime.
Hawkins opened the second half with a kickoff return to the Tiger 37. Powell converted on runs of 34, 7, and 14 yards, but they were all called back because of penalties. Chapel Hill took over on downs.
Walker was finally starting to get in a rhythm for the Panthers as he connected with Miles Richardson on a 20-yard pass that gave Chapel Hill a first down at midfield with a late hit penalty tacked on. Easterwood ran down Tyre Shelton for loss, and a host of Tigers stopped Franseco Henriques on two consecutive runs as the Tigers took over on downs.
After three quarters, the Tigers led 6-0. A combination of Dabney and Powell took turns running the ball down the field. Powell had a 20-yard burst that put the Tigers on the Panther 6. After a series of miscues and penalties, the Tigers attempted a 32-yard field goal which was blocked by the Panthers.
Chapel Hill had the ball at their own 10 with 5:44 remaining. Walker connected with Bass, and Bass breaks several tackles and picked up a first down. They used small chunks to cross midfield before Walker scrambled for a 38-yard gain down to the Tiger 8. On the next play, Walker connected with Bass on a bubble screen for the touchdown. Fayette County blocked the extra point to keep it 6-6 with 2:39 remaining.
Hawkins returned the ensuing kickoff to the 26. The Tigers picked up one first down, but fumbled it away in their own territory with 14 seconds remaining. Chapel Hill went for the end zone, but it was intercepted by Trent Carrington. Fayette tried their own hail mary, but it was knocked down, ending the non-region game in a 6-6 tie.
Powell led all rushers with 95 yards, and he also threw 24.
The Tigers will host the Banneker Trojans in another non-region game this Friday.