Whitko quarterback Alex Stoddard looks for a man downfield while Southwood defensive back Levi Winget tries to read the play.
(Tribune-News photo by Phil Smith/www.htsphotographics.com)
By MIKE KRAUSEThe Southwood Knights opened the game with a 65 yard drive on 12 plays against the Whitko Wildcats Friday, September 3. Will Adams (No. 48) carried the ball for tough yardage, Levi Winget (No. 86) caught a key first down pass from quarterback Conner Hobbs (No. 16), and Logan Schneider (No. 8) rushed around the end for a touchdown. The extra point was good by kicker Kyle Dickey (No. 10.) Knights 7 - Wildcats 0.
The Whitko Wildcats’ Austin LeTourneau (No. 5) fielded the short punt and Dakota Harmon (No. 32) and Rex Stoddard (No. 15) each carried the ball for good gains but the drive stalled on the second series of downs as QB Alex Stoddard was sacked in the backfield.
At this point, the game felt eerily like last week’s game against Columbia City.
While the offense was waiting to gel; the Wildcats defense stepped up and, more often than not; the Knights were limited to four and out.
The Wildcats again began moving the ball on an excellent catch by Travis Wiegold (No. 42) to end the first quarter.
This drive was stalled by an offensive offsides and another sack of Stoddard.
Each team went four and out and, with 7:17 left in the second quarter; the Wildcats began a promising drive with an outstanding catch by Derek Snep (No. 22) in double coverage.
Stoddard rushed for another first down and Travis Wiegold caught another first down pass followed by a “tipped” pass caught by Scott Skiles (No. 3) for a nine yard gain.
The drive ended with the Wildcats only turnover – an interception by the Knights’ Levi Winget (No. 86) in the end zone for an 18 yard return.
The first half ended still Knights 7 - Wildcats 0.
The Wildcats controlled the clock in the second half with their tough defense and, yet, despite another good drive in the third quarter, they settled for a field goal attempt from the 28 yard line by Benjamin Bryan (No. 26) which missed low.
In the fourth quarter, the momentum of the game change when Derek Snep intercepted a Knights pass all the way to the 33 yard line.
Harmon then rushed 15 yards for another first down on the 13 yard line.
On second and six; Scott Skiles rushed for the touchdown and with a good extra point the game was tied 7 - 7.
Whitko's defense again held and with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats moved the ball to the 50 yard line on fourth and 1/2 yard.
With 2:52 left in the game Wildcats ‘coach Wayne Swender opted to punt the ball.
Whitko’s defense held and the regular time ended with the score still tied.
The Wildcats won the toss, deferred and the Knights promply scored after two rushes by Adams, and an end around run by Tyler Denniston (No. 34).
The extra point was good Knights 14 - Wildcats 7.
The Wildcats possession resulted in a Stoddard rushing touchdown on the first play.
The extra point was good Knights 14 - Wildcats 14.
The Wildcats then assumed possession and the Knights defense held. The Wildcats’ Benjamin Bryan kicked a 25 yard field goal making it Wildcats 17 - Knights 14.
On the Knights ensueing possession; the Wildcats’ defense sacked Hobbs twice in the backfield and the game ended on another sack with the Knights were out of field goal range.
Coach Wayne Swender’s post game comments summed up the first half of too many inconsistencies.
When asked about the decision to punt the ball from the 50 yard line with the score tied and nearly three minutes to go. he said, “We had failed on fourth and short on three prior occasions.”
The coach noted that “his team really stepped it up on both sides of the ball in the second half.”
As it turned out, the coach’s hunch was right because the Wildcats were soon first and goal in overtime and with confidence his defense would hold. “It did.”
Will Adams led the Knights offense for 70 yards on 27 carries. D. J. Fouce played a stellar game leading the Wildcats with 17 tackles. Harmon, Snep, West, Stoddard, Bryan, Bays, Wiegold, Mort and Hinora combined for 39 tackles.
Statistically, the Wildcats dominated virtually every category, especially in the second half. After last weeks tough loss; the Wildcats demonstrated great team character in Friday’s come from behind win in overtime.
The Wildcats take their 1-0 conference record to Manchester, September 10 at 7 pm.
Homecoming is Friday, September 17 against Wabash. The Friday, September 24 game is away, at Northfield.
The Wildcats return home Friday, October 1 against North Miami; are away again the following Friday, October 8 at Rochester. The last game of the regular season is at Tippecaoe Valley, Friday October 15. All games start at 7 p.m.