Westwood fullback Daniel Hays runs away from the SGA defense during Thursday
night’s season opener for the defending state champion Wildcats in Camilla. Hays scored late in the game to seal the 40-27 victory. (Photo by Larry G. Williams/Special to The Herald)
CAMILLA -- You weren't worried about the Westwood Wonders, were you? Not these kids.
That's how they got the nickname. Remember last year when the Wildcats started the season with three hold-your-breath finishes to begin 3-0 before rolling to a perfect 13-0 season and GISA Class A state title?
Well, there they were again Thursday night in a tug-o-war with Southwest Georgia Academy, a Class AA power that made it to the state semifinals a year ago.
It was close again until Westwood pulled away, 40-27, to win on opening night at Centennial Stadium in Camilla, where it was so tense that Westwood coach Ross Worsham was walking the sidelines in the fourth quarter saying: "It's cardiac all over again.''
Worsham's oldest son Mason, the quarterback and leader of this team, made it a little easier on his dad as Westwood's offense took control of the game in the fourth, and put it away for good when Daniel Hays ran for a 2-yard TD with 20 seconds left to nail down the win.
"I knew the kids would fight. I knew they wouldn't panic. They're used to this kind of game,'' Ross Worsham said of his kids and the way they handled the pressure. "I don't know if I will ever get used to them.''
The two teams swapped leads until J.T. Edore, who gained 90 yards on 17 carries, scored his fourth touchdown of the night -- a 4-yard run with 1:43 left in the third to lift Westwood to a 30-27 lead. Then Westwood, which missed three extra point kicks, ran the Mason-to-Mason play when Mason Worsham hit Mason Jones for a two-point conversion pass and a seven-point lead, 34-27.
Then Westwood took control -- literally.
SGA ran a total of five offensive plays in the fourth quarter. That's right, five plays.
"Our offense did a good job of controlling the ball, Ross Worsham said.
Simply put, the Wildcats did just about whatever they had to do. Mitch Good opened the fourth with an interception to give Westwood the ball, and the clock and Wildcats started running.
"We just couldn't stop them,'' said SGA coach David Bell, whose team led 7-6, 14-13 and was up 21-20 at halftime and 27-26 midway in the third quarter.
"But we haven't stopped anyone all year. We didn't stop Robert Toombs last week,'' said Bell, whose team beat Toombs 27-14 in its opener.
SGA quarterback Dillon Driver, who played with a dislocated shoulder last week, was just as tough on Thursday. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 217 yards, and threw three TD passes -- all bombs. He hit Kameron Whitaker for a 61-yard TD in the first quarter and found Will Warren for an 80-yarder in the second, and kicked both extra points to give SGA a 14-13 lead. And after Warren scored on a 2-yard run, Drivers' third PAT gave SGA a 21-20 lead with 10 seconds left in the first half.
Edore, who scored on a 24-yard TD pass from Worsham in the first quarter, scored two on two third quarter TD runs (4- and 8-yards) to give Westwood a 26-21 lead, but Driver hit Whitaker with a 31-yard TD pass to lift SGA to a 27-26 lead with 6:03 left in the third.
It wasn't enough.
Westwood calmly took over -- one play at a time. At least that's the way the kids saw it.
"We've been in these kind of games,'' said Mason Worsham, who didn't throw a bad pass all night. He completed 12 of 17 for 206 yards and two TDs, and rushed for 37 yards on nine carries.
"We didn't let down, and we played our game in the fourth quarter,'' he said. "I've been in a lot of games like this. I had to keep my confidence and I had to keep everybody's confidence.''
How do you do that?
"I just kept telling them, 'one more play,' " he said. "I said that before every play.''
That's how they controlled the game, one play at a time. And Worsham came up with the biigest with 48 seconds left on a fourth-and-1 play from the SGA 13 when he hit Morrell for a 12-yard gain to all but end the game. Morrell caught five passes for 86 yards.
"Mason motivates us,'' said Jamie Davis, who caught a 27-yard TD pass in the first quarter to give Westwood a 13-7 lead. "He keeps us in the game. I knew this game was going to be tight. I knew we had to hang in there because it would come down to the end.''
It did, and the Wonders did it again.
That's 14 in a row, if anyone's counting.
And another big start for Westwood, which wants to go unbeaten again.
"Who's going to beat them?'' asked Bell.
He may just be right ...
NOTES: Westwood freshman running back Chason Worsham had to leave the game in the fourth quarter after taking a hard hit to the head. His father, head coach Ross Worsham, said of the injury: "He's been taken to the hospital. We think it's a concussion, and hope its not anything worse.''