Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local Sports

October 20, 2012

Wilcox Patriots 'sputter' way past Clinch's Panthers

Homerville — If Wilcox High’s Patriots hadn’t — as their coach said — “kind of sputtered” —, who knows just how badly they might have beaten Clinch County in a Region 2-A encounter Friday night.

As it was, they racked up 23 first downs and 465 total yards of offense on their way to a decisive 33-7 victory that bettered their report card to 5-2 overall, 3-1 heading into a non-region visit this week to Swainsboro High.

“While I’m glad we won as handily as we did, I wasn’t pleased with our failure to take advantage of some other scoring opportunities we had,” Mark Ledford said afterwards.

“We just didn’t finish off some drives the way we should have. We didn’t block well and in being inconsistent needed to have done a better job in the red zone where we had what probably should have been four other touchdown passes either dropped or just out of reach.”

Defensively, Ledford found little fault with his team.

“We played solid on that side of the ball. In coming up with three turnovers and forcing them to punt nine times, I couldn’t have asked for more from those guys.”

It was the defense, in fact, that set up the first Patriot score. In stripping a Panther runner of the ball inside their own 30 and getting Rohan Townsend’s 18-yard return of that fumble, Wilcox launched a 56-yard, six-play TD drive.

Makail Grace’s two 20-yard completions to Jonathan Howard and his 27-yard screen pass to Maurice Edwards preceded a score Grace recorded on a 7-yard run off left tackle.

After recovering another fumble at the Clinch 33 only to turn the ball over on downs at the Panthers’ 18 late in the first period, the Patriots’ 15-yard sack of the Clinch quarterback led to a 51-yard, third-down quick kick by the home team.

The visitors promptly went 54 yards in three plays, with Grace finding Howard for gains of 14 and 3 yards before hitting Josh Jackson in stride on a 37-yard “go” route for the score.

Forced to turn the ball over on downs at the Clinch 21 on their next possession, Wilcox then put the Panthers in another punting situation that led to a 75-yard, eight-play touchdown thrust.

Grace completed four passes for 30 yards, gained 19-yards on a keeper and then hit Edwards on a 35-yard screen for the score that made it 20-0 at intermission.

The third period began with an exchange of punts before the Patriots cranked up a 79-yard, nine-play march. Edwards had a catch of 14 yards and a run of 17 before Grace picked up 17 more on another keeper that put the ball at the 2. Edwards smashed into the end zone from there.

Early in the final period, Clinch averted a shutout thanks to an 85-yard, eight-play drive during which it picked up four of the six first downs it managed on the night. Pass plays of 28 and 29 yards preceded a 2-yard scoring plunge by Kenyun Morehead.

As time wound down, the teams exchanged punts before Edwards closed out the scoring on a 34-yard sweep of left end. On his way to paydirt for a third time in the contest, he broke 3-4 tackles.

Grace ran 13 times for 95 yards and completed 24 of 44 passes for 288 yards and two scores while Edwards rushed for 53 yards and two TDs and caught three passes for 74 yards and a TD in sparking the winners offensively.

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