MABEN — At halftime of Friday”s second-round playoff game, East Webster High School”s football team was in a position it hadn”t been in all season: A close game.
Holding an 8-6 lead against John F. Kennedy, East Webster entered the locker room feeling shell-shocked.
All it took was a wake-up call from senior quarterback Ledrick Patterson to get the undefeated Wolverines on track and ready to ride in the third quarter.
“Everybody had their heads down, like this was the end of our season,” Patterson said. “I just got in and told them this ain”t nothing, we”re not playing like us. They responded.”
East Webster intercepted three passes and hung 27 points in the second half to post a 38-12 win.
The Wolverines (13-0) intercepted four Samodrian Malone passes but struggled early with a new-look Kennedy offense. The Hornets (8-5) came with a heavy dose of fullback Larry Mitchell, who had been second option to 1,200-yard rusher Dontarious Malone this season. Mitchell had 14 of the Hornets” first 19 runs, helping hold East Webster to just four plays in the first quarter.
“We had to adjust to a little bit of an overload,” East Webster coach Jimmy Carden said. “That was new, and good job to the (Kennedy) coaching staff because we hadn”t seen that. It was a situation where they weren”t playing like they did on the four tapes we had. We made an adjustment there and it came back.”
Mitchell had 101 yards on 24 carries, but the Wolverines” vaunted option game outshined the speedy Kennedy back.
Kennedy drove 64 yards on 12 plays to take a 6-0 lead before East Webster responded with the first of Patterson”s game-high three touchdowns.
Just four plays into the second half, fullback Timakis Bell found the end zone on a 5-yard run.
East Webster”s defense forced a three-and-out, and its offense needed just three plays to take a 22-6 lead thanks to Patterson”s 37-yard run.
Miguel Graham intercepted a Melton pass that led to Bell”s second score in the third quarter. Much like their previous two possessions, the Wolverines needed little time to score, using two plays to take a 28-6 lead.
“Coach told us before we came out, ”They”re coming to play,” ” Bell said. “We told the line, ”We can”t let our senior year go.”
“We don”t have the big head, but we”re the type of team where if you score, we”re trying to score. If you do something positive, we”re trying to do it better.”
Bell led East Webster with 168 yards on 23 carries and two scores. Demetrius O”Briant had 100 yards on 10 carries, and Patterson had 11 carries for 76 yards.
Senior middle linebacker Xavier Moye joined Graham and Justin Gladney with interceptions.
The East Webster defense”s second-half performance impressed Patterson, who said the unit has been playing with a chip on its shoulder all season.
“It”s great because the defense takes a lot of pressure off us,” Patterson said. “At the start of the season, everybody was talking our offense being our defense. It”s like it made our defense mad. They”ve stepped up each week.”
East Webster will face a third-round rivalry match at Calhoun City (13-0), which beat Hollandale Simmons 48-6, at 7 p.m. Friday.
East Webster beat Calhoun City 28-14 in the second round of the playoffs last season. In 2008, East Webster lost to Calhoun City 14-7 in the second round.
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