There were some nervous moments right at the end, but the West Carroll War Eagles came back from an eight-point deficit at the half to pass the South Fulton Red Devils in the third quarter and then hold on to the lead in the fourth to claim the regional win 43-30 Friday night.
“South Fulton really got after us early in the game,” said West Carroll head coach Josh Wolfe. “But we big-played them in the second half and got a couple of stops when we needed them. I was really proud of the way our kids came out in that second half and played with confidence.”
After being kept out of the game the previous week against Houston County, senior Jeremiah Bryant returned in a big way Friday night, racking up 333 yards on 19 carries and scoring all five of West Carroll’s touchdowns.
“He [Bryant] had a really good game,” said Wolfe. “He pretty much carried us offensively.”
On the defensive side, Cody Wildridge had a monumental night with 15 tackles, including 12 in the first half.
South Fulton made the first dent in the scoreboard on their game-opening drive with a one-yard touchdown carry by Greg Davis, who put up two more on the conversion.
The War Eagles evened it up 8-8 shortly thereafter as Bryant broke away on a 50-plus-yard scoring run and then ran it in again for two.
The Red Devils took the lead again at the 3:33 mark of the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Bryce McFarland to Dalton Morris, who added the conversion to put South Fulton up 16-8 at the half.
The third quarter, however, belonged to the War Eagles as Bryant delivered three touchdowns, including a 63-yarder just seconds into the third.
West Carroll was up 28-16 going into the final stanza, but the Red Devils did not go down quietly as Davis ran one in from four yards out. The conversion attempt failed, but South Fulton was back in striking distance 28-22.
With 2:30 left in the game, Bryant made his final visit to the end zone on a one-yard keeper but missed it on the conversion pass attempt.
The clock was burning down fast, but the Red Devils managed to sneak in eight more points as McFarland connected on a touchdown pass and Davis broke in on the conversion, cutting West Carroll’s lead to just four points with only 22 seconds remaining.
As might be expected, South Fulton opted for the onside kick and gave the War Eagles some cause for anxiety when they retook possession near midfield.
But incomplete passes and an expired clock killed South Fulton’s hopes for a last-second comeback.
Now 5-4 overall and 4-1 in regional competition, the War Eagles are currently tied for second place in the region with Greenfield – an argument that will be settled this Friday night in Greenfield to close out the regular season.
Wolfe said he is hoping for a win and home game to start the playoffs, but noted that Greenfield bumped West Carroll to third place and first-round travel plans in a near identical situation last year.
“Greenfield is always a big game and has become a rivalry of sorts,” said the coach. “They’ve got some really good running backs, and they’re tough on defense. It’ll come down to who executes and doesn’t turn the ball over.”