By MIKE KRAUSE
Friday's football game was a classical match-up of two different styles of play. The North Miami Warriors use a deadly wide open air assault; whereas; typically, the Wildcat's play a conservative ball control running game with a few passes here and there.
Whitko's opening drive was set up by Scott Skiles (No. 3) return to the 40 yard line. Dakota Harmon (No. 32) and Rex Stoddard (No. 15) each had good gains moving the ball all the way to the 10 yard line. The drive stalled when Stoddard was sacked in the backfield which prompted a 23 yard field goal attempt by Benjamin Bryan (No. 26) which was good. Whitko 3 - NM - 0
North Miami's Austin See (No. 19) returned the kickoff to the 19 yard line. Quarterback Aaron Barker (No. 7) then completed a 37 yard pass to Erik Aspinwall (No. 8). Austin See then rushed around the right end for a 23 yard touchdown. Whitko - 3 NM - 7. Whitko went 3 and out and the Warriors again moved the ball to midfield when a Barker pass was intercepted by Derek Snep (No 22) on the 30 yard line followed by a 10 yard return.
D. J. Fouce (No. 31) rushed for 8 yards followed by a Stoddard pass to Travis Wiegold (No. 42) for a first and ten on the 30 yard line. Stoddard was again sacked and Bryan's 37 yard field goal attempt missed wide left. North Miami followed suit and after moving the ball down field attempted a 47 yard field goal which missed. The first half ended Whitko- 3 NM - 7
The second half opened with an 80 yard drive in 10 plays for the Warriors second touchdown. The extra point missed. Whitko - 3 NM - 13. Whitko fired back with a 33 yard drive and 16 yard touchdown pass to Scott Skiles with 6:53 left in the third quarter. Whitko - 10 NM -13
Whitko's defense held and on their ensuing possession and they orchestrated a 61-yard drive in 13 plays. On this drive, Snep and Fouce caught Stoddard's passes and Fouce and Harmon pushed the ball to the 22 yard line.
Bryan kicked his longest field goal of the year of 39 yards to knot the score at 13 apiece with 9:16 left in the fourth quarter.
North Miami again moved the ball to midfield but were forced to punt backing the Wildcats near their end zone. The Wildcat's went three and out and were forced to punt from their end zone when a game changing roughing the kicker penalty was called giving the Wildcats new life with about 5 minutes to go.
At this point in the football game, there was enought tension in the air to cut with a knife. Virtually everyone of the fans on both sides of the field were standing, screaming and cheering as they game continued. With the ball on the 20 yard line the Wildcats initiated an 80 yard drive in 11 plays with Derek Snep leaping high over all competition to catch the game winning 39 yard touchdown with 1:09 left in the game.
Whitko then called a gutsy play going for a two point conversion which succeeded on another Stoddard pass. Whitko 21 - NM 13. The roar of the crowd was surely heard miles away as the Whitko fans went wild!
North Miami moved the ball quickly to midfield quieting the crowd which erupted again when Connor Stouder (No. 23) intercepted a Barker pass with 56 seconds left and Whitko thereby ran out the clock.
Coach Swender was very moved by his teams performance giving credit to the offensive line, his defense and overall good execution by his team. He stated North Miami would attack his secondary which surely they did.
Ironically, it was Whitko which had the only two touchdown passed on this night. Rex Stoddard passed for 7 of 11 attempts for 95 yards to four receivers. Harmon, Fouce, Stoddard, Bumbaugh and Skiles combined for 145 rushing yards as compared to 21 rushing yards for North Miami. Barker passed 12 of 25 attempts for a total of 241 yards.
Defensively, Whitko had several sacks for a total of 30 negative yards. Both teams brought their A-game defensively to Friday's football game.
Offensively, when the line gave Stoddard time; the Wildcat's freely moved the ball through the air; especially in the second half. This pattern may come in handy down the road a bit as teams will find it more difficult to defend a two dimensional team.
Whitko's running game seems to improve when Stoddard is on track with his receivers.