White Knoll needed several big plays and a few missed field goals to notch its eighth win in a row as they knocked off River Bluff 24-21, and clinched the region title in the process.
“Our kids have found a way to win all season,” White Knoll coach Dean Howell said. “We’re just so proud of them.”
In the first quarter, it appeared that both teams started to play conservatively, holding each other to punts and turnovers and avoiding giving up big plays. The lone points came off the foot Daniel Fulmer as he knocked a 35 yard field goal through to give the Timberwolves a 3-0 lead.
The second quarter could not have been more of a contradiction. The teams combined for 28 points in the 12-minute period. River Bluff scored first in the second quarter when Brandon Tillmon found wide receiver Daniel Knight for a 17 yard score.
Following a touchback by the Gators, White Knoll’s E’Mond Brown took the pitch play down the left sideline for 80 yards as the Timberwolves (8-2, 4-0) regained the lead 10-7.
The Gators (6-4, 2-2) then methodically drove done the field to the 4-yard line, where Tillmon found a wide open Trent Brittingham.
White Knoll tried to mimic the previous feat of scoring on one play when quarterback Calev Grubb tossed a pass to Eddie Prestigiacomo, who was all alone on his way to the end zone before being caught from behind at the 4-yard line. Grubb would punch it in three plays later from 9 yards out to give his team a 17-14 lead heading into the half.
The third quarter saw White Knoll knocking on the door with a second-and-goal from the 8-yard line. As Grubb rolled out to his left, he tried to fit his throw through the defense, but was picked off.
The teams traded punts and turnovers in a scoreless third quarter, setting the game up for an emotional finish.
It appeared the Timberwolves put the game away when they ran a trick play to get receiver Jason Rumph open. Rumph made the catch easily, and scampered the rest of the way untouched for a 72 yard score with 4:42 left.
Down to its final chance, River Bluff marched down the field and scored with 16 ticks left on the clock. The ensuing onside kick was recovered, and the Gators got all the way to the White Knoll 37-yard line to set up for a game-tying field goal. Justin Salters, who had missed a 35-yard field goal previously, lined up and booted a 52 yarder that fell just short of the cross bar, giving White Knoll the win.
“I wish we had played the whole game the way that we finished,” River Bluff coach David Bennett said. “Football is like life, it won’t always go your way. We’re down 24-14 with two minutes left in the game, and I’m just so proud of our team.”
With the win, White Knoll clinched the Region V-4A title.
WK – Daniel Fulmer 35 kick 5:35
RB – Daniel Knight 17 pass from Brandon Tillmon (Justin Smalters) 10:02
WK – E’Mond Brown 80 run (Fulmer kick) 9:50
RB – Trent Brittingham 4 pass from Tillmon (Smalters) 5:34
WK – Calev Grubb 9 rush (Fulmer kick) 4:02
RB – Jason Rumph 72 pass from Grubb (Fulmer kick) 4:42
WK – Tillmon 2 run (Salter kick) 0:16