It wasn’t quite how Dean Howell wanted to start his coaching tenure at White Knoll, but he’ll take it.
Playing against the team he coached for the past three seasons, Howell wasn’t pleased with the sloppy play in White Knoll’s 14-8 victory against A.C. Flora. But thanks to a goal-line stop as time expired, Howell gets to start his career with the Timberwolves undefeated.
“We played absolutely terrible,” Howell said. “We didn’t block nobody all night, but I’m just proud of the kids. They found a way to win right there at the end.”
The Timberwolves did block when it mattered most. A 42-yard pass from Falcons quarterback Brendon Greene to Caleb McComb put A.C. Flora at the 2-yard-line. Trailing by six points and with 40 seconds left on the clock, the Falcons scrambled to run in the tying touchdown, but time ran out before they could.
“They played their tails off,” Howell said of his defense. “They battled right there, which I’m proud of.”
The play mirrored what the rest of the game had been like — the teams standing in the way of their own opportunities.
White Knoll had a chance to extend its 12-6 halftime lead at the start of the third quarter until running back Quinn Jones fumbled at the 7-yard-line. He finished with 190 rushing yards.
The Falcons recovered, but went three-and-out on offense, punting to about midfield. But the punt touched Jones before an A.C. Flora player fell on it, giving possession back to the Falcons.
A.C. Flora went on to turn the ball over on downs, giving White Knoll another chance to put its lead out of reach. But Jones was stopped 4 yards short of the goal line, and the Falcons took over on downs and started their drive deep in their own territory. The Falcons couldn’t capitalize on another opportunity and got tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Two drives later, White Knoll was brought down in its own end zone, too, to create the rare occurrence of two safeties in one game.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” Howell said.
Though the key mistakes could have doomed the Timberwolves, it was the key plays at the start of the game that ultimately pushed them to victory. Jones’ 70-yard run to set up the first touchdown gave White Knoll the early momentum. Quarterback Craig Blakey’s 52-yard pass to Jason Rumph to put the Timberwolves in position for their second touchdown gave them a halftime lead the Falcons never overcame.
Though Howell admitted it was weird to start the season against his old team, he was more concerned with how the game transpired, and more importantly, the outcome.
“It is what is is,” Howell said. “We won a game. I don’t care who it was against.”
WK — Blakey 4 run (kick failed)
ACF — Pollard 24 run (kick failed)
WK — Jones 3 run (kick failed)
WK — Safety (Team)
ACF — Safety (Team)