Home / Patriots hold off Wildcats, 20-14 in season opener
Patriots hold off Wildcats, 20-14 in season opener
It was expected that Sandy Creek, the reigning Class AAAA state champions, would come out and make a statement against one of their county rivals in the season opener. And they did.
Quarterback Ronnie Bell (7 of 14, 183 yards, 1 TD) connected on a 78 yard touchdown pass to Alex Chisum (6 catches, 143 yards) on the Patriots first play on offense. After two more big pass plays on their next drive, Derrick Alexander (33 yards rushing) scampered in the end zone on an eight yard touchdown run and Sandy Creek looked like they were going to roll into their bye week this week.
Not so fast. This was the first game of the season after all and both teams got bogged down in penalties and miscues.
“Too many penalties tonight,” Sandy Creek head coach Chip Walker said. The Patriots had nine penalties for 73 yards and the Wildcats had nine penalties for 101 yards. Whitewater head coach Amos McCreary agreed, adding that if his team continued to give up so many penalties they would have a hard time beating anybody.
But Whitewater looked like a different team in the fourth quarter. Down 20-0 after a Mike Hilton touchdown run of 53 yards, the Wildcats got big throws from quarterback John Mark Rhodes (8 of 12, 224 yards) and huge catches from a number of different receivers including Brian Covington, Josh Clemons, Matt Serpico (two catches for 32 yards on offense, three tackles and one interception on defense) and Josh Baker (44 yards receiving, three tackles on defense). Clemons (66 yards rushing, 6o yards receiving, five tackles on defense) and Covington each had a touchdown for Whitewater and the Wildcats threatened to get one more in the closing seconds before Hilton knocked down a pass on fourth down deep in Sandy Creek territory.
“Hilton is the best player in the county,” Walker said after the game. Hilton had six tackles, one tackle for a loss, two pass defenses, 62 yards rushing and 28 return yards. Overall, Walker felt his team played well at times and did well against a strong Whitewater team, but there will certainly be things to work on during their off week. The Patriots were led on defense by 14 tackles and three tackles for a loss from Jamal Ware, 13 tackles, three tackles for a loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery from Xavier Chisum and 10 tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sack from Chaz Johnston. Gavin Rocker added two tackles for a loss and two sacks, as did Stefan Austin.
Whitewater’s leading tackler was Joel Van Asch with eight tackles and two assists. Other Wildcats cited by McCreary for playing well were McClain Head, Brandon Bolden, Trey Wafford, Colton Scurry, Jordan Watson and the offensive line as a whole for their pass protection.
“It was an exciting finish,” said McCreary. “I just wish it went our way.” McCreary added that he hoped the game would serve as a confidence builder for his team. “Lots of teams have lost the season opener and gone on to do great things,” he added, referencing the Patriots season opening loss to East Coweta last year on their way to a state title.
McCreary added that Brandon Collins provided a big spark to Whitewater in the second half. Collins is coming back from an injury but was determined to play in the game.
Sandy Creek is off this week, while Whitewater (0-1) plays at Ola (1-0). The Mustangs opened with a 24-10 win over Henry County last Friday.