Wilkinson County didn’t want another overtime game.
After a loss to Johnson County last week, Warriors’ head coach James Hagins told his quarterback David Whipple to throw the ball away if he didn’t have a play. In a tie ballgame, all the Warriors needed was a field goal to win the game.
Whipple made the play himself, throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Demonzio Stubbs with 41 seconds to play to give Wilkinson County a 14-7 win over Southwest on Thursday at Thompson Stadium.
“He’s a young quarterback, and he made the right decision right there,” Hagins said.
Wilkinson County sacked Southwest quarterback J.T. Miller twice on the ensuing drive to ice the game. The Warriors’ defense, led by college prospect Alvin Dupree, sacked Miller nine times in the game and allowed only one first down to the Patriots in the final quarter.
“They have a very good team with a lot of athletes, and I think they were a little mad after last week’s loss,” Southwest head coach Carror Wright said.
The Warriors’ game-winning touchdown drive covered 10 plays, but it was their only sustained drive of the game.
Wilkinson County relied on its defense and special teams to win the game.
The Warriors came up with two clutch second-half stops: a goal-line stand and a forced fumble on another possession in the red zone.
The first key stop came at the end of the third quarter. The Patriots moved the ball inside the Warriors’ 5-yard line, and they got to the 1 on a sneak by Miller. But Miller was stood up on third down, and then the defense swarmed running back Jewitt Jones on fourth down for a 4-yard loss.
After a punt gave the Patriots the ball inside Wilkinson County territory, Miller hooked up with Jacob Hughes on a 30-yard pass to move inside the Warriors’ 20-yard line. But after breaking one tackle, Hughes was stripped from behind and Wilkinson County recovered the ball at its own 14.
“The turnovers hurt us,” Wright said. “You can’t do that and expect to win.”
Even when it wasn’t creating turnovers, the Warriors’ defense made big plays.
Dupree was the catalyst for most of the sacks putting pressure off the edge and giving Miller little time to throw. The Patriots double teamed him to no avail.
“We tried to chip him with a fullback, a halfback, a wingback, a tailback, every kind of back,” Wright said. “It didn’t work.”
Wilkinson County’s special teams played a role in both of the touchdowns.
The Warriors scored their first touchdown on an 80-yard punt return by Devontaye Drayton. He hit the hole with a burst and was virtually untouched on his way to the end zone.
The Warriors returned a fourth-quarter punt 37 yards into Southwest territory. That return led to the game-winning touchdown.
Jewitt Jones was most of the offense for the Patriots on Thursday.
The 5-foot-7 senior running back rushed for 139 yards on 20 carries in the game. He had runs of 22, 32 and 50 yards. The 32-yard run went for a touchdown and capped the game’s opening drive to give Southwest a 7-0 lead.