War Eagles slug out win over West Jones
By Paul Keane
In typical Wayne County-West Jones fashion, the War Eagles and Mustangs stood toe-to-toe and slugged it out for 48 minutes Friday night at War Eagle Stadium. And because of the toe of Brandon McCary and a missed field goal by West Jones as time expired, WCHS came out with a 13-10 victory.
The win improved the War Eagles to 8-2 overall and 5-1 in District 3-5A play, and it clinched a playoff spot and no worse than a No. 2 seed in the playoffs heading into Friday night's regular season finale against South Jones. WCHS could still win the district title if the Mustangs can defeat Laurel this Friday night.
Either way, Head Coach Todd Mangum said his team did what it needed to in order to bounce back from a 23-17 loss to Laurel on the road last week.
"Hey, its Wayne County and West Jones," Mangum said after the thrilling finish on a Halloween night. "It's always going to be that kind of game. It doesn't matter if we play it here or if we play it in Soso, it's always going to be a good, old fashioned, hard-nosed football game.
"But they are a good team, and they have an explosive offense. With their quarterback, all you can do is try and contain him; you're not going to stop him. And they always play great defense. I am just so proud of our players for playing until the very end and finishing the game."
The offensive fireworks didn't really begin until the final eight minutes of the game as the War Eagles broke open a 6-6 tie when David Hodo hit Reggie Stewart in stride for a 31-yard touchdown pass that capped off a six-play drive that ate up only 1:37 off the clock. The score and the McCary extra point made it 13-6 with 6:14 remaining in the game.
The Mustangs answered right back with an impressive 60-yard drive that ended when Neil McLaurin plunged in from a yard out to trim the deficit down to 13-10 with 3:21 remaining.
West Jones then forced a three-and-out, but the Hodo punt pinned the Mustangs at their own 10. After a sack, an incompletion and a short pass, West faced a fourth-and-11 from its own 9-yard line. McLaurin completed a pass that went for 56 yards, down to the WCHS 25-yard line with scant seconds left on the clock.
"You can't print what I was thinking when they completed that pass," Mangum said. "It was the same situation as last week against Laurel then they completed the long pass on a fourth-and-10 late in the game.
"But West Jones still had to snap it at least one more time, and we were able to make the plays this time around."
On first down, a run gained a yard, then an illegal procedure call backed West up to the 29-yard line. A pass fell incomplete with one-tenth of a second left, allowing West to line up for a 46-yard field goal that missed its mark, allowing the home sidelines to erupt in celebration.
Before those fireworks late in the game, the contest had evolved into a good, old-fashioned defensive struggle.
Neither team could put points on the board in the first quarter, although WCHS did march down to the Mustangs' 1-yard line only to see a fourth-down run chalk up minus-1 yard. From there, the two teams settled back into the defensive struggle and traded punts for most of the rest of the half.
The War Eagles did put together a 52-yard, 11-play drive that ended when McCary booted a 24-yard field goal to make it 3-0 with 5:05 left in the first half.
The defense was able to hold, with DeCarlos Walker picking off a pass that was nullified by a penalty. That allowed the Mustangs to set up shop at the WCHS 18, but the defense held again and West had to settle for a 38-yard field goal as time expired, knotting things up at 3-3 at the intermission.
On its first drive of the second half, WCHS marched 77 yards in 17 plays before McCary booted a 19-yard field goal that made it 6-3 with 4:39 left in the third quarter. The drive was kept alive when Walker took the snap on a fake punt and raced 3 yards for the first down, allowing the offense to stay on the field at the West Jones 47-yard line. Eight plays later, McCary hit the field goal that gave the War Eagles the lead again.
McCary had a chance to add on some more points early in the fourth quarter, but a 43-yard effort just missed the mark. From there, the two teams put together the final moment theatrics to keep fans interested.
Down the stretch, Hodo completed his final seven passes of the night, including the touchdown toss to Stewart, for 157 yards to help the offensive effort.
WCHS 13, WEST JONES 10
SCORE BY QUARTERS
WJHS 0 3 0 7 — 10
WCHS 0 3 3 7 — 13
WCHS — 5:05, Brandon McCary 24-yard field goal.
WJHS — 0:00, 38-yard field goal.
4:36, McCary 19-yard field goal.
WCHS — 6:14, Reggie Stewart 31-yard pass from David Hodo. McCary kick.
WJHS — 3:21, Neil McLaurin 1-yard run. Kick for extra point.
FIRST DOWNS: WCHS 17, WJHS 17
RUSHES-YARDS: WCHS 47-137, WJHS 33-105
PASSES: WCHS 13-19-0, WJHS 11-27-1
PASSING YARDS: WCHS 197, WJSH 120
FUMBLES-LOST: WCHS 0-0, WJHS 3-0
PENALTIES-YARDS: WCHS 8-60, WJHS 11-64
PUNTS-AVERAGE: WCHS 5-33.4, WJHS 7-42.0
RETURN YARDS: WCHS 48, WJHS 29
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 4-of-15, WJHS 3-of-15
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS: WCHS 1-of-2, WJHS 2-of-2
TIME OF POSSESSION: WCHS 22:25, WJHS 25:35
Freddy Jordan, Jr., 15-41, David Hodo 13-34, Chris Cooley 11-33, D.J. Cameron 5-27, DeCarlos Walker 1-3, Benito Jones 1-(-1).
David Hodo 13-19-0 197 yards.
Rameik Wallace 2-75, Reggie Stewart 5-71, Dashun Philon 3-23, Direkus Harris 1-20, Freddy Jordan, Jr., 1-8, Cadarius Pannell 1-0.
Tyler Hopkins 15, Jamal Powe 10, Tramond Lofton 9, Denzel Bonner 9, Jacquan White 7, Benito Jones 7, TyRee Evans 7, Chandler Pugh 7, Javonta McCann 5, Cadarius Pannell 5, Clifton Jordan 3, Roy Arrington 3, Quinten Hogan 2, DeCarlos Walker 1, Schadarius Chambers 1.
Tyler Hopkins 2, Tramond Lofton 1, Denzel Bonner 1, Chandler Pugh 1, Jacquan White 1, TyRee Evans 1.
Jacquan White 5, TyRee Evans 5, Tyler Hopkins 4, Tramond Lofton 3, Chandler Pugh 2, Benito Jones 2, Denzel Bonner 1.
Clifton Jordan 1.
Cadarius Pannell 1.