Wildcats rally for season-ending victory over Hawks

FRONT ROYAL — Cam Ford wasn’t going to let the season end like it did last year.

The Warren County senior quarterback made a couple big plays down the stretch to help lead the Wildcats to a 28-14 non-district victory over cross-town rival Skyline. It was the last game of the season for both teams.

The Wildcats trailed by a point late in the third quarter, and Ford said his team knew they had to keep battling.

“We just knew that this happened last year,” a teary-eyed Ford said. “As soon as we went down we didn’t get our heads up. We just weren’t focused on the task at hand. This year we knew what we had to do. We knew we had to come out on the second half and not let it be like last year and finish through. I couldn’t thank my team enough for finishing through.”

The Wildcats (3-7) began the game-winning drive with 10:54 left. A penalty moved the Wildcats back to the Warren County 10-yard line, but Ford led his team on a 12-play drive.

The biggest play came on a second-and-13 from the Skyline 49. Ford scrambled around after almost being sacked, and eventually found a wide-open R.J. Kenney for a 26-yard gain.

“I just rolled right and nothing really was open,” Ford said. “And I just saw the whole left side of the field, so I just turned around and ran. Then I saw R.J. and I can trust him. I knew that he would catch it.”

Four plays later, Warren County’s Ronnie Dodson scored on a 10-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead with 5:52 left in the game.

Skyline quarterback Ryan Scott completed a 30-yard pass to Luis Garcia to start the next drive, moving the ball to midfield. However, Ford intercepted a pass on the next play and returned it to the Skyline 30.

A fumble gave the ball back to Skyline at the Skyline 4 with 3:34 left, but the drive stalled quickly to give the Wildcats the victory.

“Winning this game is huge for the kids,” Warren County coach Steve Crist said. “They’re excited, well earned. For the seniors it’s great to finish this with a win. I’m really, really happy for them.”

The Hawks (2-8) hurt themselves in the first half. Skyline put together an impressive drive to start the game. The Hawks used eight plays to move the ball to the Warren County 11-yard line. However a Skyline fumble was recovered by Keeney and returned 51 yards to the Skyline 38 with 7:10 left in the first quarter.

On Skyline’s next possession the Hawks moved the ball 74 yards to the Warren County 1 on 15 plays. Once again a Skyline fumble gave the ball back to Warren County.

“It’s unfortunate,” Skyline head coach Heath Gilbert said of the turnovers. “I thought our kids played hard. Of course Warren County played hard too. That’s going to happen. Turnovers and mistakes are going to be a part of the game. When they put the ball on the ground we weren’t able to get it.”

The Wildcats responded with a 96-yard drive. Warren County used 11 plays to score with Ford scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run with 6:24 left in the first half.

The Hawks came right back with a 66-yard drive. Skyline used 14 plays on the drive and almost six minutes of clock time. Skyline’s Trenton King scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to tie the game, 7-7, with 27 seconds left in the first half.

The Wildcats took the lead on a six-play 28-yard drive in the third quarter. Ford scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 13-7 lead with 5:53 left in the third quarter.

The Hawks responded with a 57-yard six-play drive. Skyline’s Tucker Fortney scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to take a 14-13 lead with 3:18 left in the third quarter.

Gilbert said there were plenty of positives this season that the Hawks can build on for next year.

“We were so senior loaded last year, and we’re bringing a lot of guys back,” Gilbert said. “We’re building on something good next year, and hopefully it pays off.”

Ford said even though the record wasn’t what he and his teammates wanted he was very happy with the team this season.

“Record or not, I’m proud of my team either way,” Ford said. “Record means nothing to me. My teammates mean more than anything to me, just like family. I couldn’t be any prouder of my team or my coaches.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com

Wildcats 28, Hawks 14
Skyline 0 7 7 0–14
Warren County 0 7 6 15–28
Second quarter
W: Ford 2 run (Ashley kick), 6:24
S: King 2 run (Scott kick), :27
Third quarter
W: Ford 6 run (Kick failed), 5:53
S: Fortney 6 run (Scott kick), 3:18
Fourth quarter
W: Dodson 10 run (Carter pass from Ford), 5:52
W: Ford 1 run (Ashley kick), :43
First downs 17 17
Rushes-yards 37-78 41-205
Passing yards 236 95
Passing 17-28-0-1 5-11-0-0
Penalties-yards 13-93 8-65
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-1
Punts-avg. 2-47.0 2-34.5
RUSHING: Skyline, Diggs 20-56, Fortney 4-11, Scott 10-4, King 3-7. Warren County, Dodson 19-117, Ford 15-56, Frantz 5-32.
PASSING: Skyline, Scott 17-28-236-0-1. Warren County, Ford 5-11-95-0-0.
RECEIVING: Skyline, Garcia 5-100, King 8-70, Brown 1-9, Clingerman 1-7, Timbers 4-53. Warren County, Haley 1-22, Kenney 1-26, Meltvedt 1-30, Dodson 2-11.