Before the Whitewater Wildcats enter their new region, they had some business to attend to with an old foe. The Wildcats withstood a fourth quarter surge to earn a 43-21 road win over the Starr’s Mill Panthers on Friday night.
Whitewater used a huge first half, including 20 points in the second quarter, to build up an insurmountable lead. For the Wildcats, it’s always special beating your rivals.
“It’s always good to come down and beat your neighbor,” said Whitewater coach Amos McCreary. “Getting one in their backyard makes it that much better.”
Even in the season opener, the Wildcat offense looked like it was in midseason form piling up 405 total yards with 197 on the ground and 208 through the air.
“I thought they did really well. They came out here and performed,” said McCreary. “Scoring 43 points speaks highly of how hard they worked all summer.”
Whitewater took advantage of a turnover to get the first score of the game midway through the first quarter. Linebacker Russell Welch recovered a fumble on the first play of the Panther drive, setting up his Wildcats just 26 yards away from the end zone. Christian Wafford took advantage of the great field position, scoring from 17 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats exploded for three touchdowns in the second quarter to pad their lead. Wafford plunged in from two yards out to make it a 14-0 lead.
Following Wafford’s second score, Starr’s Mill got their first strike of the game. Quarterback Satchel Goodrich sliced through the defense for a 39 yard touchdown. Brandon Oot’s extra point would narrow the deficit to 14-7.
Jay Ashley heated up from there. Ashley hit Luke Allen on a bomb up the sideline for a 55 yard touchdown. He used his feet the next time, running for an 11 yard touchdown to put his Wildcats ahead 27-7 heading into halftime.
Whitewater padded their lead in the third quarter with some big plays from their defense. Ian McIntyre’s interception snuffed out the Panthers first drive of the second half. Eric Ogle killed the second series with a safety to make it a 29-7 lead.
Jonathan Womack followed up with a stellar return to set Whitewater up on Starr’s Mill’s 37 yard line. Ashley capped off the drive with an 18 yard touchdown pass to a sliding Hunter Worley for a 36-7 lead.
Starr’s Mill wasn’t about to go quietly though. Freshman running back Rico Frye caught fire, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Frye’s first score from 10 yards out capped off a 71 yard scoring drive that was highlighted by a 28 yard pass from Stone Kasten to Dion Munerlyn. After Matt Mullins recovered the following onside kick, Frye blasted his way through the Whitewater defense for a 31 yard touchdown to narrow the deficit to 36-21.
The Panthers looked to be on the attack when Nathan Cockes recovered a fumble on their next defensive series, but they would not be able to return to the end zone.
Whitewater padded their lead with a long, 60 yard scoring drive on their final series. Ashley and Jonathan O’Brien connected for a key 18 yard completion to move the chains and keep the clock ticking. Ashley and Luke Allen hooked up for their second touchdown of the night with a one yard score to make it 43-21 with under two minutes to play.
Ashley finished the night 14 of 24 passing for 207 yards and three touchdowns, with another score on the ground and five extra points. Luke Allen hauled in six passes for 85 yards and two scores. Christian Wafford piled up 139 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 24 carries.
Russell Welch keyed the Wildcat defense with 12 tackles and one fumble recovery. Kyle Brown and Wafford each tallied six tackles a piece.
Rico Frye led the Starr’s Mill offense with 83 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Satchel Goodrich added 79 yards and one score on 13 carries. The Panthers piled up 171 yards rushing on the night.
Whitewater plays on the road again this week at Banneker, while Starr’s Mill plays at Fayette County.