WAGENER-SALLEY 27, BETHUNE-BOWMAN 24
WAGENER — It was finally Wagener-Salley High School’s turn to kick off the 2014 football season Friday night, and the War Eagles got off to a quick start. They jumped out to a 27-6 lead in the first half of their game against Bethune-Bowman.
However, the visiting Mohawks came on strong in the second half. They cashed in on sloppy plays by the home team to make a game of it late.
When it was all over, the War Eagles (1-0) were able to hold on for the 27-24 win despite three late turnovers. The game was nothing like the last time the two met when Wagener-Salley trounced the Mohawks 52-6 in 2013.
“We were very fortunate to come out of here with a win,” said War Eagles head coach Ken Tucker. “We have a lot of young, inexperienced guys. The first half, seemed like everything went right for us. Then in the third quarter, we started making some turnovers and started to let them back into the game, and the next thing you know, we’re having to make a goal-line stand in the last two minutes.”
Tucker’s young squad seemed to struggle to contain Bethune-Bowman’s (0-2) junior signal caller Malik Willis. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound quarterback rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns. He called his own number 32 times in the contest, and 121 of his yards came in the first half.
In years past, the Mohawks were more balanced with their offensive attack, as noted by Tucker, throwing the War Eagles a bit of a curveball to overcome Friday.
The game came down to the wire as the Mohawks marched down the field, trailing 27-24. With just two minutes left on the clock, Willis connected with Greg Starkes for a 7-yard gain to set up a manageable third-and-goal. Willis called his own number, shed several would-be tacklers and reversed field to come within a yard of another score.
On the ensuing fourth-and-goal, Willis fumbled the ball off his knee as it was snapped back to him, and was immediately swarmed by a score of War Eagles as the home crowd finally came to life.
Wagener-Salley was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief after the play and run out the clock as Bethune-Bowman had exhausted all of its timeouts.
Wagener-Salley’s Tre Davis ran the game’s opening kickoff back for a quick, 85-yard score and that proved to be a bit of an omen for the War Eagles as all 27 of their points came off plays of 35 yards or more.
The War Eagles will next get a crack at Ridge-Spring Monetta.
BBHS 0 12 6 6 – 24
WSHS 14 13 0 0 – 27
WSHS–Tre Davis 85-yard kickoff return (Nick Posey PAT Good) 11:45.
WSHS–Cameron Shiffner 52 pass to Nijae Jerry (Posey PAT Good) 2:47.
BBHS–DeQuan Keitt 6 run (2-pt conv failed) 11:54.
WSHS–Ke’aunri Holmes 65 run (Posey PAT Good) 11:36.
WSHS–Shiffner 30 pass to Jerry (Posey PAT Blocked) 2:50.
BBHS–Malik Willis 12 run (2-pt conv. failed) 0:08.
BBHS–Keitt 7 run (2-pt conv. failed) 4:28.
BBHS–Willis 4 run (2-pt conv. failed) 9:42.
BBHS–M. Willis (32, 221 yds, 2 TDs)
WSHS–Ke’auni Holmes (13, 106 yds, 1 TD)
BBHS–Malik Willis (8-18, 71 yds, 2 INT)
WSHS–Cameron Shiffner (3-11, 88 yds, 1 INT)
BBHS–Greg Starkes (3, 35 yds)
WSHS–Nijae Jerry (2, 82 yds, 2 TDs)