The Whitewater Wildcats may have moved down to the AAAA classification for the 2014 season, but they showed that they can still play with AAAAA squads.
The Wildcats jumped out to a big early lead on the road against county rival Starr’s Mill and held on for a 43-21 victory in the season opener for both teams.
The game began with an exchange of punts, but Whitewater got the first break of the game by recovering a fumble inside the Starr’s Mill 30. Shortly thereafter, Christian Wafford scored on a 17-yard run to give the Wildcats the early lead midway through the first quarter.
Wafford found the end zone with 8:15 to go in the second, taking the ball in on a 2-yard run after a lengthy Whitewater drive.
Satchel Goodrich scored for the Panthers on a 39-yard quarterback keeper with 6:09 left in the first half to make the score 14-7. On the next possession, after Wafford took the kickoff just over the 40, Jay Ashley found Luke Allen sprinting down the right sideline and they connected on a 57-yard scoring pass.
A penalty on the ensuing kickoff backed up the Panthers to their own 6 and they were forced to punt. A 26-yard pass to Jonathan O’Brien put the ball on the 3, and after the Starr’s Mill defense stopped Whitewater twice and recorded a sack, Ashley scored on a 12-yard run on third-and-goal. The halftime score was 27-7.
The Panthers quickly drove into Whitewater territory to start the third quarter, but Ian McIntyre intercepted a Starr’s Mill pass and returned it nearly 40 yards to give the Wildcats a first down at the Panthers’ 40. The Starr’s Mill defense held on fourth down and took over at their own 5, but on third dozen Eric Ogle made the tackle in the end zone for a safety.
Jonathan Womack returned the ensuing free kick to the SMHS 37 and Whitewater was back in business. On third-and-3 from the 18, Ashley lofted the ball into the right corner of the end zone and right into the hands of Hunter Worley.
On the first play of the fourth quarter the Panthers’ Dion Munerlyn hauled in a pass and raced 28 yards to the Whitewater 10. Rico Frye took the handoff on the next play and scored, and then Matt Mullins recovered the onside kick to give Starr’s Mill the ball again. The home team capitalized, as Frye scored on a 31-yard run, cutting the Wildcats’ lead to 36-21.
That was as close as they got. Neither team got much going on the next few possessions, but Whitewater put together a sustained late drive to burn up much of the fourth-quarter clock and put up the game’s final touchdown on a 1-yard pass to Allen with 1:36 left.
Both teams are on the road next Friday. The Wildcats travel to Banneker, while the Panthers face Fayette County.