Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local Sports

November 10, 2012

Patriots repeat as Region 2-A champs

Rochelle — When Wilcox High blanked vastly-improved Telfair County 21-0 Friday on its senior night observation, it got the win it needed to repeat as Region 2-A football champs.

Now, the Patriots must play the waiting game to find out exactly who their first playoff foe will be under the new Georgia High School Association power rankings format for Class A members.

“We won’t officially know until early in the week who we’ll play or where we’ll be seeded in the 16-team field but by winning this game we’re hoping to stay at least at No. 2,” victorious coach Mark Ledford said.

If it works out that way, the 8-2 Patriots figure to be at home for any playoff game they have leading up to the state championship game to be played at the Georgia Dome in mid-December.

Based upon their last three home field appearances that ended with Wilcox posting shutout triumphs over Lanier, Turner and Telfair counties, that could spell bad news for future opponents.

Telfair, which came into the contest as one of Region 2-A’s hottest, highest-scoring teams, found out just how stingy the Patriots’ defense can be as its deepest penetration all night was to the Wilcox 34.

In addition to being skunked on the scoreboard while falling to 6-4 overall, 3-3 league play, the visitors only managed 143 yards and six first downs. The outcome also jeopardized their ambitions of becoming one of the 16 teams in the public school playoffs that start Nov. 23.

En route to its sixth triumph in a row, the home team posted single touchdowns in each of the first three periods but had two other apparent scores voided by penalty. Its final points production was its second-lowest of the year. Class AAAA Monroe limited it to 14.

Set up by field general Makail Grace’s 62-yard scamper to the 1, the Patriots first score came just under eight minutes into the game. Maurice Edwards got it on a 1-yard plunge that capped a 72-yard, four-play drive.

Midway the second period, the Patriots struck paydirt again on Grace’s 27-yard pass to Jonathan Howard. That hook-up accounted for exactly half of the 54 yards they traveled in five plays for the score. Right before the payoff, Grace had found Quinn Tisdol for a 25-yard pick-up.

Earlier in that stanza, Wilcox had turned the ball over at the Telfair 28 on an interception and had seen an apparent 35-yard TD toss from Grace to Howard erased by a holding call.

Big 290-pound Johnny Dwight got the second half started off with a bang for the Patriots, rumbling 46 yards to the Trojans’ 17 with the third quarter kickoff.

From there, it took six plays to reach the end zone with the big gainer coming on 4th-and-13 from the 20 where Grace found Howard for 17 yards. Two plays later, Grace scored on a 1-yard quarterback draw.

During the remainder of the contest, Wilcox drew three costly penalties. One for illegal formation wiped out a 37-yard TD toss to Edwards. Another erased a 15-yard run to the Trojans’ 5 erased and eventually led to a misfiring on a 40-yard field goal attempt. The last for illegal use of the hands negated a Howard punt return of 60-plus yards.

“Defensively, I thought we stood out and were solid all night with our physical style of play,” Ledford said in his assessment of the Patriots’ overall performance.

“Offensively, we did some good things but we also missed out on some scoring opportunities for which we can only blame ourselves.”

Despite the overall go-team problems, Grace completed 17 of 30 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown and ran 12 times for 43 yards and a score. Howard had 10 catches for 161 yards and a TD.

“All things considered,” Ledford said in his final post-game reflections, “it was good to see us come out on top on senior night as I thought we continued to play with a lot of heart.”

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