JOHNSTON — The undefeated season continued for Wardlaw Academy Friday night as the Patriots got out to 38-0 first quarter lead and cruised to a 60-27 victory over the Richard Winn Academy Eagles.
Running back Malik Lee did most of the damage on big running plays.
“It was a combination of the size of their offensive line and the skills of their running back (that proved the difference),” Eagles Coach Dan Dickerson said.
Dickerson said in 10 years coaching at Greenwood High School he never had a group of five linemen as big as Wardlaw’s and that the boys looked every bit the part of college prospects.
In the first half, RWA lost two fumbles. One was returned 75 yards for a touchdown and the other led immediately to a Wardlaw scoring play. Richard Winn actually outgained Wardlaw 442 yards to 306 yards but Dickerson said the Eagles used a variety of formations to shift the Wardlaw defense around and create running lanes.
Quarterback Matt Taylor took advantage as he led the Eagles in rushing (192 yards on 21 attempts) and passing 10-14 for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Taylor had a pair of 67-yard touchdown runs and a two-yard touchdown run. The two-yard run was set up on a reverse pass play that found Taylor wide open.
“I will be surprised if Wardlaw is not a team playing for the championship,” Dickerson said. “This week we’ll work more on those things that we did Friday night with formations, on offense to help our speed give us an edge in these last two ball games.”
At 5-6 the Eagles would finish with a respectable record in his first season but the bigger story is how his players played.
“I was proud of our efforts,” he said.
Starting tailback John Coleman left with a shoulder injury and did not return in the second half. In his absence, Austin Knox (13 carries for 81 yards) and Webb Yongue (3 carries for 22 yards) moved the chains for the Eagles.
The leading receiver was Yongue with four catches for 40 yards. Mitchell Gibbons snared three passes for 40 yards and Coleman added four catches for 24 yards.
The scoreboard broke in the second half. One player came up to him later and said that helped the Eagles to play harder because instead of dwelling on how much they trailed, he and his teammates just played fundamental, hard-nosed football and had fun.
Richard Winn is on the outside looking in for a fourth place finish in the region and a playoff berth. Right now the fifth place Eagles are just focused on finishing strong with their two remaining games, both at home. The Eagles play Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Pee Dee Academy.