Destiny can change the outcome of the last three games of the season, but the Wildcats may have lost the Region 3-AAAAA title Friday night at Memorial Stadium to Ware County, 34-17.
Ware, 6-1, which lost the AAAAA state title to Gainesville last December, was tested by Glynn Academy last week, but won in the fourth quarter, 21-19.
Richmond Hill’s Ronnie Harris took the opening kickoff to the Ware County 12-yard line. A holding penalty on the very next play stymied the chances of a touchdown for Richmond Hill but a 26-yard field goal from Joel Heiser put the Wildcats ahead early, 3-0.
“Tonight, one area that we played well was special teams. We had some nice returns a blocked an extra point,” Richmond Hill coach Lyman Guy said.
The Gators responded with an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive, eating up most of the first quarter clock, when Jaquez Bolds scored from 8 yards out, putting Ware ahead, 6-3.
Richmond Hill took up the ball on the ensuing kickoff and Mississippi State signee quarterback Nick Fitzgerald took his methodical option offense on the field. Fitzgerald’s sleight of hand had the Gators guessing who had the football.
After running a dive play, Fitzgerald tried to get the Wildcats on the perimeter by tossing the ball to his back, but the back didn’t secure the toss before cutting up field. Ware jumped on the fumble at the Gator 34-yard line. Bolds scored on the next play giving the Gators breathing room, 14-3.
“You can’t make mistakes like we did against Ware County. We had two turnovers against them and they were able to score off both of them. When you make mistakes against good teams like Ware it’s hard to rebound from it,” Guy said.
The Wildcats proved they weren’t finished adding another touchdown from Harris with eight minutes left in the half, from a sustained 12 play, 81 yard drive to trail Ware 14-10.
Harris, finished with 109 yards rushing off of 11 carries, and two scores.
Ware added another touchdown taking a 20-10 lead at halftime. The Gators bolstered its defensive adjustments focusing on stopping the Wildcats option in the second half.
Desperation started to creep in for the Wildcats and Fitzgerald handed off to halfback Michael Clark for a halfback pass but Clark’s pass was thrown into double coverage and tipped up and Ware County standout Cat Jenkins. The Division I recruit returned the ball to the Richmond Hill 19 with the Gators punching the ball in off a quarterback sneak two plays later, 27-10. Dedrick Mills added the final Gator score early in the fourth quarter sealing the game 34-10.
“We thought that we had a chance with the halfback pass possibly. I should have made a different call. Offensively, they are some calls that I certainly take the blame for,” Guy said.
Richmond Hill grinded out the final minutes of the game as Fitzgerald led final drive that resulted in the Wildcats morale score, 34-17. During the last scoring drive, Fitzgerald threw his only pass of the game, a first-down 14-yard strike to Byron Vick. Fitzgerald who kept the ball much of the drive and scored off of a 2-yard run, finished with 75 yards on 16 carries.
Read full story in Oct. 23 issue of Bryan County News.