Wadley’s 15-12 loss to Winterboro was just about as evenly matched as a football game can be. Both teams turned the ball over twice. Both teams scored exactly two touchdowns. Wadley had 50 more yards of total offense, but that can be attributed to field position as much as anything.
“They come in here, they’re 4-0, ranked No. 8 in the state, and we hung in there with them with what we’ve got,” said Wadley head coach Shenan Motley.
In the end the difference came down to PATs, which Winterboro won 3-0. They converted their two-point try on their first touchdown to go up 8-6, then made good on their one-point try late in the game to put them up by nine points and force Wadley to have to score twice in order to come back.
Wadley did its best to do just that. A 32-yard touchdown pass from Lakevion O’Neal to Issac Minnifield with 16 seconds left in the game cut the lead to 15-12 and at least gave Wadley an opportunity to recover an onside kick. They were unable to do so, however, and Winterboro ran out the clock to secure the win.
“I’m not mad because I know good things are yet to come for this group right here, so I can’t say anything bad about it,” Motley said. “They came out here and fought. They fought hard, and we played a heck of a ballgame.”
Jacob Marable was once again the bell cow for Wadley as he rushed for 153 yards on 21 carries. But for the second straight week he was kept out of the end zone as Wadley struggled to convert yards into points.
“We moved the ball. We had a bunch of yards. We’ve just got to find the end zone. We’ve got to stick it in. We’ve been having a little bit of trouble with that all year,” Motley said.
O’Neal threw for both Wadley scores. The first was an 11-yard strike to Wyatt Smith that put Wadley up 6-0.
O’Neal finished with 103 passing yards while completing 5-of-13 attempts.
Minnifield caught three balls for 65 yards and a touchdown.
For the second straight week the game was halted in the fourth quarter when a player had to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Two weeks ago it was a Victory Christian player that was taken off in an ambulance (and later determined to be okay). Last week Wadley eighth-grader Bryant Langley suffered a neck injury and was later airlifted from the field after the game.
The loss is Wadley’s first region loss of the season. The Bulldogs will take on RCHS this week on a non-region game before starting the critical home stretch of their region schedule against Woodland next week.
“A lot of these teams in the region are just neck and neck,” Motley said. “Woodland could still piece it together. You can’t rule them out. They’re playing a lot better football. Victory Christian has a good ball club. You never know. It’s still early, and we’ve got a lot of region left.”