VERSAILLES – One bad quarter for the Western Hills football team made the difference in the Wolverines’ opener Friday.
Trailing just 13-7 at halftime, WHHS saw Woodford County score 29 points in the third quarter on its way to a 49-13 win in the Governor’s Bowl.
“The first half I thought we played really well,” WHHS coach Don Miller said. “We came in at halftime and told them there were two plays where they (Woodford) scored 13 points on basically busted plays.”
The Yellowjackets took advantage of a Western Hills fumble less than a minute into the game, recovering the ball at the WHHS 23-yard line.
Woodford quarterback George Bowen hit Jarren Holts with a 23-yard touchdown pass on the next play. Zack Korby’s point-after kick was blocked by Jared Banta, and the score was 6-0 with 11:08 left in the first quarter.
The score remained 6-0 at the end of the period, and midway through the second quarter the Wolverines took a one-point lead.
After Woodford was forced to punt from its own 20-yard line, WHHS took over at the Yellowjackets’ 40-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage Casey McLean went 40 yards for the touchdown and he also kicked the extra point, putting Western Hills ahead 7-6 with 6:07 left in the second period.
The advantage was short-lived. After recovering an onside kick at the WHHS 49-yard line, WCHS scored on a 49-yard run by Conrad Smart 10 seconds after the Wolverines’ touchdown.
Korby kicked the extra point and the Yellowjackets were ahead 13-7, a lead they held at halftime.
“I felt really good at halftime,” Miller said, “but they came back with a big play right off the bat and had another one after that.”
The first big play was a 48-yard touchdown run by Smart on the second play of the second half, and Bowen’s conversion pass put the Yellowjackets ahead 21-7 with 11:13 left in the third.
The next big play for Woodford came when WHHS punted from its own 41-yard line. Curtis Ham blocked the kick, picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead with 8:53 left in the third.
Before the quarter ended Woodford scored two more times – on a 37-yard pass from Bowen to Thomas Hickman and a 35-yard run by Bowen. Korby was perfect on PATs in the third quarter.
“Some guys were hurt, and then Nick (Lockett) went down,” Miller said. “We had to move some guys around on offense and defense, and we got a little disoriented. I think that’s what happened on the punt that was blocked.”
Woodford led 42-7 at the end of the third quarter.
WHHS caught a break with a fumble recovery at the Woodford 48-yard line. On third down quarterback Nick Young completed a 14-yard pass to Tanner Smith, giving the Wolverines a first down at the WCHS 29.
On the next play Young hit Cody Williams with a 16-yard pass, good for another first down.
McLean scored from six yards out on third down and the conversion pass was incomplete, making the score 42-13 with 6:51 remaining.
The game’s last touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Woodford’s Travis Rogers with 5:55 left in the game.
Defensive and offensive players of the game were selected for the Governor’s Bowl. Smart was named the defensive player of the game, and Bowen the offensive player.
“We still fought,” Miller said. “We did a whole lot better than we did against Lincoln County (the Wolverines’ pre-season scrimmage).
“We’ve got to get in better shape. It’s hard because we don’t have a lot of guys, but we have to get in better shape and I have to do a better job at that.
“We had some young guys play well,” Miller said. “Daniel Childress did a really good job and stepped up.”
And that’s what Miller is looking for from a team that has 22 freshmen and sophomores on its 34-player roster.
“We did improve, and we want to do that from week to week,” he said. “As long as we do that and play better we’ve got the opportunity when we get to district play, with four or five games under our belt, to be ready to go.”
WHHS plays its home opener this Friday against Franklin County.