Wildcats make comeback with 14-13 win over Green Dragons
FRONT ROYAL – It was deja vu all over again for the Warren County Wildcats on Friday night.
For the second year in a row, the Wildcats snapped a multiple-game losing streak on homecoming. This time, the Wildcats (2-4, 1-1 Bull Run District) ended a four-game skid with a dramatic 14-13 comeback win over the William Monroe High School Green Dragons.
Senior tight end Brendan McMackin caught a 32-yard strike from senior quarterback Robert Rutherford with 1:54 left in the game. The touchdown capped a wild second half for Warren County, as the Wildcats erased a 13-0 William Monroe halftime lead.
Warren County head coach Steven Crist said that he told his players at halftime, “We gotta play with heart and guts – and we did in the first half. We just didn’t execute on a few plays.”
The Green Dragons (0-5, 0-2 Bull Run District) came out and asserted its running game early and often against that Warren County defense.
Senior running back Malik Mallory led the way for the Green Dragons, rushing for 145 yards on 25 carries, 109 of which came in the first half.
On a six-play drive, following a punt by the Wildcats, the Green Dragons quickly took a 7-0 lead on a 6-yard touchdown scamper by senior running back Corey Bates with 7:37 left in the first quarter.
Warren County gained some momentum offensively in the second quarter, as Rutherford completed passes of 25 and 19 yards to drive the Wildcats inside the Green Dragons’ 5.
However, William Monroe senior wide receiver and defensive back Kalil Green picked off Rutherford in the end zone two plays later with 7:04 remaining in the half.
Following the interception, the Green Dragons marched down the field 80 yards for their second touchdown of the half, a 24-yard strike from senior Tyler Trevillian to Kalil Green.
Trevillian entered the game for junior quarterback Malique Shackelford, who left the game with an injury following a second-down rushing attempt midway through the second quarter.
Following a missed extra point, William Monroe took its 13-0 lead into the locker room.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Crist said. “Nobody hung their heads, nobody gave up. We kept fighting, played with heart, played with guts and that’s really all you can ask.”
Wildcats got on the board with 1:37 left in the third quarter when Rutherford hit McMackin for 19-yard touchdown on fourth down from the 19.
Rutherford started off the game shaky, missing on each of his first four passing attempts. He would finish the game 8-19 with 172 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We really didn’t make a whole lot of adjustments (defensively). We just played “ Crist said. “We executed a lot better in the second half, we tackled better in the second half.”
William Monroe continued to move the ball and had a chance to extend its lead to 16-7 with 9:15 after a lengthy drive stalled.
Acting as the Green Dragons’ kicker, Bates saw his field goal attempt blocked and recovered by the Wildcats. Eight minutes later, Rutherford connected with McMackin for the go-ahead score.
William Monroe would not go away quietly, however.
With less than 1:30 remaining, Trevillian hit Green for a 24-yard pass, which advanced the Green Dragons into Wildcat territory.
The Wildcats’ defensive line responded near midfield, as McMackin and company pressured Trevillian out of the pocket and on the run with each pass attempt.
Rutherford sealed the win by picking off Trevillian’s last-ditch Hail Mary at the 5 yard line as time expired.
“The kids made plays they had to make a play … when it was there to be made,” Crist said.
The Wildcats will hit the road next week and take on the Strasburg High School Rams on Oct. 16, before returning home to face the George Mason High School Mustangs on Oct. 23.
Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org