Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local Sports

November 24, 2012

Wilcox cruises past Greenville

Rochelle — Makail “Mailman” Grace turned in his typical stellar performance, delivering passes to six different receivers for 221 yards and two scores and running 18 times for 107 yards and three touchdowns.

Jonathan “Bug” Howard bit the opposing team for four receptions — one of them for a touchdown — and picked off a pass that set up his team’s final touchdown.

But it was Maurice “Woot” Edwards who provided the big boost that helped lift Wilcox High’s Patriots to a 42-14 victory over Greenville High in Friday night’s opening round of the Class A public school state playoffs.

“The spark that “Woot” gave us was huge,” elated winning coach Mark Ledford said after watching his elusive sophomore running back carry 15 times for 104 yards and a TD and catch two passes for 48 yards and another score.

“All season long, he has seemed to be our freshest kid in the second half and he did it again tonight (rushing 12 times for 79 yards after intermission on the way to his first 100-yard rushing effort of the year).

“We had several other guys like Makail and Jonathan step up and answer the bell while doing what needed to be done in order for us to move to the final eight.”

Now 9-2 overall, the second-seeded Region 2-A champion Patriots will play host Friday to Marion County, Region 4-A’s  No. 3 team. Seeded seventh in the final GHSA power rankings for Georgia’s smallest schools, the Eagles earned their berth in the clash by beating Charlton 31-12.

In extending its winning string to seven and prevailing at home for the 41st time in its last 43 starts, Wilcox immediately opened the game first with a bang and then promptly followed with a busted play.

A 66-yard pass from Grace to Josh Jackson on first down put the home team in a first-and-goal situation just inside the 10. The very next hike, however, led to a botched snap that Greenville recovered.

The visitors then ate a good bit of time off the clock by moving from its own 20 to the hosts 24 where it came up a yard shy of moving the chains.

From there, Wilcox needed eight plays to travel 76 yards for its first score notched on a 5-yard lug by Grace around right end. After Robert Carrillo toed the first of his four PAT kicks, the home team had a lead it would never surrender.

Starting its third possession of the evening from its own 14 after a Greenville punt, the host school zipped 86 yards in eight plays the last of which resulted in a 44-yard scoring strike from Grace to Edwards as he sailed down the visitors’ sideline.

After forcing another punt by the guests, Wilcox went on its shortest scoring excursion of the evening. Setting up shop at the Greenville 38, it overcame a face mask penalty to register a TD Edwards posted on a 21-yard gallop through the heart of the visitors’ defense.

An exchange of punts and a swap of fumbles later, the first half came to a

Please see WILCOX page 2B

close with the home team holding a 21-0 scoreboard lead and a commanding 269-85 edge in yardage gained.

Anyone thinking Greenville would throw in the towel at that point promptly found out that assumption to be erroneous as the guests opened the second half with a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive.

After finding burley tight end Tevin Acey for back-to-back aerial gains of 16 and 22 yards to put the ball at the Wilcox 30, Greenville needed five rushes to reach the end zone. Quarterback Jamal McKee followed his center into the end zone from inside the 1 for the score.

Despite seeing Howard’s 66-yard kickoff return erased by a block in the back well behind the runner, the home team quickly restored its margin to three touchdowns by traveling 66 yards in six snaps.

After handing the ball off five straight times to Edwards for gains of 8, 31, 7 and 8 yards and a loss of 1, Grace sprinted around left end to score from the 2.

Still refusing to quit, Greenville again crept to within two scores of its host thanks in large part to the 58-yard gallop Demetrius Simon made to open the drive on a play Wilcox contended — in vain — that he fumbled when tackled.

That run put the ball at the 20 from where it took the visitors four plays to get a score posted on Calvin Hall’s 7-yard run that made it a 27-14 game.

Once more showing its spunk, Wilcox retaliated with a 67-yard, 14-play drive. The payoff came on a 5-yard pass that Grace fired high enough for Howard to go up and grab over two defenders.

“To immediately follow both their third period touchdowns with scores of our own was vital as it never let our separation from them fall below 13 points,” Ledford would acknowledge afterwards.

Howard set up the winners’ final six-pointer with an interception at his own 49 that gained another 15 yards as the result of an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Greenville.

Thus starting from the visitors’ 34, Wilcox needed six plays to hit paydirt on a 7-yard dash by Grace who started as if he would skirt right end but cut back off tackle for the score.

“We looked a little sluggish and rusty on occasions, but that’s not unusual when you get high school kids out of the normal routine as ours were due to a week off and the holiday break,” Ledford said.

“As I’ve told the guys before, though, we have yet to play our best game which hopefully we’ll do somewhere down the road.

“I do want to say a big thank you, too, to the fans who came out to support us. In these tough economic times, it represents a financial sacrifice to bring a family to a game and I really appreciate those who did so.”

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