There were similarities between the 2016 and 2017 Wildcat football openers. The foe for both were the West Florence Knights. At kickoff time, the heat indexes were almost identical, in the upper 90’s. Lexington never trailed in both contests and cruised to victories. In 2016, the Wildcats rolled up 333 yards of total offense. This year the total was 332.
In Head Coach Perry Woolbright’s debut, his team showed a scrappy character, playing hard and minimizing mistakes. Senior quarterback Chase Crouch was 13 for 19 through the air for a total of 159 yards. Junior Jordan Hiller ran 19 times for 155 net yards and 1 touchdown. Senior Trevor Daniel and Junior William Crouch each caught 4 passes for 71 and 52 yards respectively. And the Cat defense was stingy, forcing 2 interceptions and 4 three-and-outs.
Lexington got on the board on their first possession. On a first down play from the West Florence 49, Jordan Hiller broke loose for the score. Matthew Waller’s kick was good, giving the Cats a 7-0 lead.
After 3 plays and a punt on the next Knight and Wildcat drives, West Florence began a drive on the Lexington 44. Six plays later, on a 4th and 10 from the 32, Cooper Wallace found Vic Johnson in the end zone to tie the score.
The Knights defense forced a Wildcat punt and looked to be driving to a score. But on 1st and 10 from the Cat 28, Senior linebacker Chandler Corley picked a Cooper Wallace pass to end the threat.
With 9:45 on the 2nd quarter clock, Lexington engineered a 10 play, 90 yard scoring drive that featured 16 yards of rushing from Senior Mitchell McGee and completed passes to Senior Alston Stewart for 15 yards and Trevor Daniel for 10 and 34 yards. McGee found a big hole on 2nd and 1 from the West Florence 3 yard line for the score as the Wildcats retook the lead, 14-7.
Mitchell McGee, playing both ways, put an end to the next Knight scoring try. After West Florence advanced the ball 48 yards on 9 plays, McGee intercepted a Cooper Wallace pass on 4th down.
Defenses tightened up in the 3rd quarter with West Florence gaining only 35 yards of positive yardage and Lexington posting just 34.
The Wildcats widened their lead with just over 7 minutes left in the game when Senior Parker Vancoutren carried for the score from the Knight 6 yard line. It was the culmination of an 8 play, 67 yard drive. The extra point was no good, making the score 20-7
West Florence silenced the home crowd when, 2 possessions later, a breakdown in the Wildcat defense allowed Ailym Ford to run 92 yards, nearly untouched, to draw his team within 20-14 with 3:52 to play.
The Knights got a final try with 2:42 on the clock and possession on their 47. But the Cat defense rose to the challenge. On 1st down, a handoff to Ford was stopped by Sophomore David Cromer for a 2 yard loss. Cooper Wallace was sacked on the following play by Alston Stewart. On 3rd down, under heavy pressure, Wallace was flagged for intentional grounding. On 4th and 16, a pass to Vick Johnson was incomplete and the Cats ran out the remaining time for the opening night win.
Lexington is 1-0 and will host AC Flora on Friday evening at 7:30. Flora dropped their opening game to Woodruff by a 53-45 final.
West Florence: 61 plays, 316 yards (36 rushes/218 yards, 9 for 23 passing/98 yards)
Lexington: 55 plays, 332 yards (35 rushes/183 yards, 13 for 19 passing/159 yards)
Jordan Hiller: 19 carries for 155 yards, 1 TD
Mitchell McGee: 4 carries for 11 yards, 1 TD
Akeem Nicholas: 4 carries for 10 yards
Parker Vancoutren: 1 carry for 6 yards, 1 TD
Chase Crouch: 6 carries for 1 yard
Chase Crouch: 13 of 19 for 159 yards
Trevor Daniel: 4 catches for 71 yards
William Crouch: 4 catches for 52 yards
Mitchell McGee 3 catches for 24 yards
Alston Stewart: 1 catch for 15 yards
Logan Cripe: 9 tackles (3 solo), 1 tackle for loss
David Cromer: 7 tackles (6 solo), 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup
Alston Stewart: 6 tackles (5 solo), 1 sack, 2.5 tackles for loss
John Mills: 6 tackles (3 solo), 1 pass breakup
Jaylen McCoy: 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss
Othello Sutton: 5 tackles (2 solo)
Will Mosier: 4 tackles (4 solo), 1 tackle for loss, 2 pass breakups
Parker Vancoutren: 4 tackles (4 solo)
Cooper Smith: 4 tackles (2 solo)
Wyatt Hall: 2 tackles (2 solo), 1 tackle for loss
Chandler Corley: 2 tackles (1 solo), 0.5 tackle for loss, 1 INT
Forest Alvarez: 1 tackle (1 solo)
Jordan Chrisman: 1 tackle (1 solo)
Mitchell McGee: 1 INT