CAROLLTON - Walnut had quite the scare in the fourth quarter but the Wildcats held off J.Z. George's furious comeback attempt for their sixth-straight win of the season, defeating the Jaguars 28-25.
The Wildcats used a 12-yard touchdown run by T.J. Colom and a two-point conversion rush by T.J. Luellen to build a 28-7 lead with 9:06 left in the fourth quarter. But then the Jaguars started to string together explosive plays leading to a wild fourth quarter.
Following Colom's score, J.Z. George's Jordun Normal hit Jacob Johnson for a 75-yard touchdown but their conversion attempt was no good, bringing the score to 28-13 with 8:47 remaining. The Jaguars struck quickly again, this time with Normal scampering in on a one-yard run with the conversion attempt failing again.
On the Jaguars' third drive of the fourth quarter, Normal found wide receiver D'Anthony McGolthan for the 59-yard strike, bring the score to 28-25. But the Jaguars' third two-point conversion attempt of the fourth quarter was denied again by the Wildcats' defense to hang on for the win.
"Those stops on the two-point conversions were huge," stated Walnut head coach John Meeks. "Them getting just one of those could have changed how the game went but we were able to stop them."
Walnut held a 12-7 lead at halftime after two first half touchdown passes from quarterback Cade Hunt to senior tight end Chase Rogers. On the Wildcats' opening drive of the game, Hunt found Rogers for the 11-yard touchdown and the 6-0 lead. The Jaguars' answered with a six-play, 90-yard drive, capped off by a McGolthan 47-yard touchdown run, plus the extra point for the 7-6 lead.
With just three minutes remaining in the second quarter, Hunt and Rogers connected again, this time for a 13-yard touchdown. Rogers finished the night with three receptions for 34 yards and the two scores.
"Chase did an outstanding job of just getting open," Meeks said of his senior tight end. "He is someone we trust in our passing game and I'm proud of him for the way he played Friday night."
In the third quarter, Hunt tossed his third touchdown pass of the night with a six-yard completion to Luellen for the score. Colom added the two-point conversion with 7:08 remaining, building a 20-7 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Hunt finished the night 11-18, 166 yards and the three touchdown passes. Colom had a team-high 167 yards of offense in the win, including 104 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Luellen totaled 65 yards from scrimmage and a score. In all, the Wildcats racked up 327 yards off offense against a quality opponent.
"I was very pleased with how we looked on offense for the most part," Meeks claimed. "Our skill guys have been the story all year but I thought our offensive line looked good tonight, particularly in the second half. I believe we had 161 rushing yards and 166 passing yards. That balance only happens when you can create holes in the run game and protect your quarterback when he drops back to pass."
The Wildcats jump to 6-1 on the year, riding this six-game win streak into the toughest test of the season, their Div. 1-2A rival East Union. The Urchins (5-2, 1-0) are coming off 54-29 win over Mantachie in their 1-2A opener last Friday. East Union's high-powered offense will be a challenge for Walnut. The Urchins average 43.4 points per game, breaking the 50-point mark three times, including a 61-point performance against Myrtle in Week 2.
Last season, East Union broke away from their wing-T offense into this spread, pass-happy offense the week of their matchup with Walnut. As a freshman last season, quarterback Ty Walton threw for 291 yards and five touchdowns in the Urchins' 42-14 win over Walnut. Through seven games this season, Walnut has thrown for 1,681 yards and 25 touchdowns to just five interceptions.
"He is such a good quarterback," said Meeks of Walton. "We are going to have to play our best for four quarters because we know that they can score and they've proven that this year."
The winner of Friday's matchup will be considered the favorite to come out on top of the Div. 1-2A standings at the end of the year.