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Patriots fall to Turner County in a thriller

By Cade Cromer

Cordele Dispatch Contributor

ASHBURN- The Wilcox County Patriots traveled to Ashburn to take on the Turner County Rebels on Friday night for their final away game of the regular season.

The game started off promising for the Patriots as Turner County was unable to keep possession of the ball on the opening kickoff and Martez Thrower recovered the fumble for Wilcox.

The Patriots were unable to make the turnover payoff on the subsequent drive, however, and they turned the ball over on downs to give the Rebels possession.

The two teams traded defensive stops for the remainder of the first quarter and most of the second quarter until the Patriots scored the first points of the game.

After forcing another Turner County punt, the Patriots found themselves at their own 47-yard line, and two plays later Landon Ledford lofted a long pass up the sideline and Desmond Tisdol outjumped his defender to make the catch before taking the ball in for a 52-yard touchdown. Ledford tacked on the extra point to make the score 7-0 Wilcox with 3:30 remaining in the second quarter.

Turner had a touchdown called back because of a penalty on the next drive, and the Patriots were able to keep them out of the end zone for the remainder of the drive by forcing a stop on fourth down. Wilcox ran out the last minute of the first half and took a 7-0 lead in at halftime.

Wilcox received the second half kickoff but the Turner defense forced them to punt after the drive stalled out near the Patriot 45-yard line. The Rebels then scored their first points of the night on a 56-yard touchdown run. The point after attempt was unsuccessful for the Rebels after a fumbled snap, and the Patriots maintained the lead at 7-6 with 7:52 left to play in the third quarter.

The Rebels then found themselves with a chance to take the lead after a Patriot fumbled snap set them up with first and goal at the three-yard line. An unsportsmanlike penalty pushed the Rebels back to around the 20-yard line and Wilcox kept them out of the end zone from there to force the turnover-on-downs.

Two plays later the Patriots extended their lead as Landon Ledford threw a short pass to Jordan Benjamin, who ran past several Turner defenders on his way to the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown. The extra point gave Wilcox the lead at 14-6 with 4:16 left in the third quarter.

The Wilcox defense forced another punt on the next drive after a sack by Tisdol pushed the Rebels back to third and long.

The Rebels retook possession several plays later with an interception, and they made the turnover payoff on the subsequent drive with a touchdown and two-point conversion that tied the score at 14-14 with 7:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots started their next drive at their own 44-yard line and two plays later Ledford threw a pass to Keyshawn Howard that resulted in a 30-yard gain. A facemask penalty on Turner moved the ball to the Rebel 11-yard line, and Jordan Benjamin was able to find the end zone on the very next play. The point after attempt was no good, but the touchdown gave the Patriots a 20-14 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the game.

The next drive for Turner County ended quickly as Matt Mcadoo intercepted a pass to give the Patriots possession of the ball.

The Patriots attempted to run the clock down on the next drive, but they were ultimately held on fourth down at the Turner 40-yard line.

Turner County took possession of the ball with just over three minutes remaining in the game, and a couple of big plays set them up with a first down at the Wilcox 11-yard line. The Rebels were able to score a touchdown on fourth down as their quarterback took the ball into the end zone from two yards out. The point after gave the Rebels their first lead of the night with just 48 seconds to play in the game.

The Patriots were unable to find a potential game-winner on their last drive of the night, and the Rebels ran out the clock to escape with a 21-20 win.

The hard-fought loss brings the Patriots’ record to 2-7 on the season. The Patriots will host Atkinson County next Friday night.