The West Ridge Wolves made their maiden trip to Big Red Valley on Friday night and came away with a 31-9 victory over the Cherokee Chiefs.
It was Cherokee’s comeback game. Both teams suffered heavy defeats in their last game and were hungry for victory.
The Chiefs won the draw but postponed until the second half. The Chiefs ‘defense was solid the first two games, but Wolves big quarterback (6’3“, 242 lbs) Ethan Bergeron found wide receiver Isaac Haynie behind the Chiefs’ defense for a 50-yard pass. to the Chiefs 16.
Two games later, Eli Topping scored from four yards. Eli Iacino kicked the point after to give Wolves a 7-0 lead.
Cherokee came out by launching their first series. Micah Jones 1st down pass fell incomplete, his second down pass was abandoned, and on the 3rd down he found Preston McNally over seven yards. Nick Sumpter landed the Wolves’ 36.
The Wolves used a mix of passing and running to get to the Cherokee 15. On the second down, Will Price took a big hit for a three-yard loss. The 3rd pass down from Bergeron fell incomplete and Iacino kicked a basket from 35 yards to bring the score to 10-0 at 4:30.
After a touchback at kickoff, the Chiefs moved the ball through the air. Jones found Aiden Webb for ten yards and Matt Newton for eight more. Jones switched to Webb at 41.
After a failed snap was recovered by Jones and an incomplete pass, West Ridge defensive back Peyton Greene intercepted a pass from Jones to Chief 47.
Wolves moved the ball down the field again, but Price made a winless save at the Cherokee two-yard line. After an incomplete pass from Bergeron, Gage Jarnigan and the Chiefs’ defensive front stopped the Wolves on 4th base at the Cherokee’s two-yard line.
In the second quarter, the Chiefs again moved the ball; Jones passed to Price for a 1st down on 19. Jones ran for another 1st down and Thomas Hughes had another first down on a 12 yard run.
On the 3rd down, Jones broke several tackles to pick up four yards. On the 4th down, Jones used a tough count to lure Wolves offside and get a 1st down. Hughes picked up 12 yards and another 1st down. Two games later, Iacino intercepted a pass from Jones in the end zone and sent it back to Wolves 48.
West Ridge used several running plays to move the ball and recovered their own fumble to keep their training alive. On a 3rd down, Bergeron joined Haynie for a 22-yard touchdown. Iacino’s point after brought the score to 17-0.
The Chiefs were held at three and taken out in the next procession, with a bad snap causing Jones to be sacked at 13. On the 3rd down, Jones was sacked again at 4. Sumpter kicked towards the Cherokee 40. Defense of the Chiefs had their own threes in and out, reclaiming the ball after the Wolves punt at 19.
The Chiefs failed to move the ball and on the 4th down attempted a false punt with Sumpter carrying the ball. He was stopped at the Cherokee 25. After two running plays moved the ball to the 11, Bergeron ran down the middle to the Cherokee’s one-yard line where he fumbled. Haynie was in the right place and recovers the fumble for a touchdown. Iacino added the point after for a 24-0 lead at halftime.
After the halftime return activities, the Chiefs had a successful practice. After Jones hit Price at West Ridge 49, Landon Jackson had back-to-back runs for 26 and 14 yards. Practice stalled in the red zone, but Sumpter scored a 22-yard field goal to give the Chiefs their first points of the night and the score was 24-3 with 9:03 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Cherokee defense stopped Wolves again in the next practice. Price made a big save on the 3rd down and Wolves were forced to kick. On the second play of the next drive, Hughes lost a fumble and West Ridge recovered at Chief 20.
The chief defense had their best streak of the game. Hunter Adkins stopped a West Ridge runner for a one yard loss, then the entire defensive front smothered the runner on the 2nd down. On the 3rd and 14th, a pass fell incomplete and on the 4th, Webb knocked Bergeron’s pass to the ground.
The Chiefs used a tough run from Jackson to move the ball after winning the motorcade. Jones also completed a pass to Webb for a first down. After Jackson ran to West Ridge 20, Jones was sent back to 32. On 4th base, Jones’ pass was intercepted by Iacino at the six-yard line.
He brought it back close to midfield, but a block in the back penalty brought the ball back to 25. Kaleb McLain did most of the damage in the next practice, including a 46-yard slip. He scored from eight yards at the end of the quarter Iacino made the PAT to bring the score to 31-3.
Cherokee couldn’t get a 1st down on the next drive, but Wolves missed Sumpter’s punt and the Chiefs recovered the ball. Jones rushed for a 1st down on a 4th down. Jackson ran eight yards to Wolves 29. Jones was sacked at 35. On 3rd down, Jones took a deep fall and was sacked at Cherokee 40. Sumpter punted to West Ridge 29.
Wolves won two first downs with reservations that got some action. On the third down, Jason Carpenter and Isaac Williams teamed up to sack the Wolves quarterback and force a punt.
At the end of the game, quarterback Logan Johnson and Isaac Williams gained all yards in the last practice of the game. Williams scored on an eleven-yard run as the horn sounded to bring the final score to 31-9.
Jones finished the night 10 of 28 for 83 yards but suffered 3 interceptions. Jackson carried 15 times for 83 yards. Hughes rushed 10 times for 52 yards. Williams had three carries for 39 yards and the Chiefs’ lone touchdown. Price caught 4 passes for 38 yards, Webb 3 for 29 and Newton 2 for 10 yards.
Defense improved and stopped Wolves’ offense several times during the game.
On a personal note, congratulations to Cherokee coach Josh Hensley and his wife on the birth of a new baby girl earlier in the week.
The Chiefs face Crockett at home on Friday.