By Wendell Womack
The Winston Patriot’s 24-7 loss to powerhouse, Simpson, was closer than a 24-7 game.
A third and eight yard situation from the Simpson 43 yard line resulted in a 67 yard touchdown run, and a first and ten from the Simpson 6 inch line resulted in a 99 yard touchdown run. If the Patriots could close their eyes and erase these two plays, they would have a 10-7 game. BUT, they can’t do it, and it therefore goes down as a 24-7 hard fought loss.
Winston has never been successful in the “Hole” on the campus of Simpson Academy, but this was their best fight against the always strong, Cougars, in many years.
The fired up Patriots caused the Cougars to fumble on their first possession in which Sam Dempsey recovered at the Cougar 25 yard line. Winston wasted no time in going to the end zone, as Zach Taylor ran it in from the 2 yard line. Gage Graham kicked the PAT to put the Patriots on top 7-0 with 7:00 left in the first quarter. Simpson answered back with a 5 yard touchdown pass and extra point to tie it at 7-7.
After a defensive struggle from both teams and back to back punts, Simpson would have to settle for a 32 yard field goal with 7:16 remaining before halftime. After a Noah Corcoran punt was downed at the Simpson 6 inch line, the obvious play followed- a quarterback keeper.
In hopes of getting 3-4 yards to prevent a safety, the Cougars got way more than expected. The result was a 99 yard zig zag run, all the way into Winston’s end zone with 57 seconds remaining on the first half clock. This score and extra point took the air out of the Patriots as the momentum had now shifted to the Cougars as the first half came to an end. Both teams slugged it out during the entire third quarter that saw no scoring from either team. As the final quarter got underway, the Cougars were still holding on to their 17-7 lead.
The Patriots then started using a strong ground attack, led by senior Zach Taylor. After starting at their own 22 yard line, they moved it to the Simpson 35 , before disaster hit, and turned it over on a lost fumble. Simpson found it impossible to move the ball and had actually lost yardage. Facing a third and eight situation, they caught the Patriot defense with their guard down, and stuck with a 67 yard touchdown run.
The PAT then increased the Cougar lead to 24-7 with 8:14 remaining. Winston could find no first down yardage on the next possession and were forced to punt. The following Simpson drive came to an end with 5:31 remaining when Will Moody gathered in an interception and returned it 18 yards to the Simpson 20 yard line. But as bad luck would have it, the Patriots turned it right back over on an interception of their own.
Simpson with then use the clock and their lead to their advantage,to send their record to 6-1 with the victory, as the Patriots fell to 3-4 with the loss. The offensive highlight of the contest was the running performance of Zach Taylor, who rushed for 121 hard fought yards on 21 carries and Winston’s only score. Gage Graham remained practically flawless in his PAT department for the season with his single PAT.
Defensively, Sam Dempsey led the charge with 9 tackles and a fumble recovery. He was followed by Dale Chancellor with 7 stop and Will Moody with 6. Moody was also credited with an interception. So as the Patriots receive a well needed open date this week, they will use it for healing purposes and regrouping for the balance of the season. When they return to action on October 12, they will travel to AAA Starkville for game that is always a dog fight between these two teams.