TRINITY — A seemingly harmless kickoff to begin the second half turned into a huge momentum swing for Wheatmore Friday night.
Knotted up at six with rival Trinity, the Warriors lofted a kick high in the air that went just 20 yards. The Bulldogs tried to come down with it, but the ball fell to the ground and Wheatmore recovered. They turned it into points moments later and never looked back to pull away for a 22-8 victory in the PAC-6 rivalry meeting.
“It was huge, and a bit lucky,” said Wheatmore head coach Philip Yarbrough. “Obviously, we don’t draw it up for them to muff it and us jump on it. But it was a momentum shift right off the bat, and that is what this game is about.”
Wheatmore (1-1) took over at the 40 on the recovery and regained the lead five plays later on quarterback Ben Walker’s 11-yard TD run with just over a minute gone.
The points would continue to add up for the Warriors, while the turnovers added up for the Bulldogs.
A fumble set Wheatmore up at the 20 just three minutes later. Only one snap was needed this time to score.
Perry Welch went up the middle, cut outside and dashed for the pylon for the TD. The two-point conversion was good, extending the lead of the guest to 20-6.
Each team would add a safety for the final points of the evening.
Trinity (0-2) had one last chance to make it interesting late, but a fifth turnover in the half closed it out.
“We really challenged our guys at the half and told them it was going to be about hearts and guts from here on out,” Yarbrough said. “For about 18 minutes I thought we played really hard and focused football to stretch the lead a little bit.”
Wheatmore had struck first midway through the opening quarter with a mostly aerial attack. On the first snap from their own 49, the Warriors quickly moved to the Trinity 16 when Walker found Caleb Gundaker down the near sideline. Three plays later, Walker went right down the seam to Gavin Dennis, who had gotten inside of the defender for a 17-yard TD catch. The two-point conversion failed leaving it 6-0.
Trinity struggled mightily on its first three drives of the game, but the fourth began to produce some positive yardage.
After forcing the Warriors into a turnover on downs, the Bulldogs went big on the first play with a deep pass connection down the middle of the field that went for 35 yards. The drive began to stall and they were faced with a fourth and 15 at the WHS 15, but one more big play took them into the endzone. Quarterback Chandler Shell settled into the pocket and waited for Landon Carter to come open over the middle. The junior shielded his defender and snatched the ball for the tying score. The PAT failed to leave it a 6-6 deadlock going into the half.