WARRIOR WELCOMING: South Grand Prairie’s Carson Wiggs nails game-winning field goal to lift Warriors to 38-35 come-from-behind victory over Plano West Wolves
South Grand Prairie’s Carson Wiggs nails game-winning field goal to lift Warriors to 38-35 come-from-behind victory over Plano West Wolves
By Denton Ramsey / Sports Editor
The South Grand Prairie Warriors welcomed the Plano West Wolves to the 2006 season with an impressive 38-35 comeback win on Friday night at Clark Field to open up the season with a 1-0 record.
Playing on the road, on the enemy’s turf and with all odds against them, the Warriors came out on top, despite desperate attempts by officials and Plano West coaches to delay the inevitable.
With 3.5 seconds remaining in the game and the score deadlocked 35-35, the Wolves spent their final three timeouts in a last-second hope of icing the Warriors cool, calm kicker.
But all attempts failed for Plano West, and all attempts were successful for South Grand Prairie as Carson Wiggs’ 33-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as the final buzzer sounded to an eruption from the Warriors sideline and stands.
“First game out, playing zero-week, it couldn’t get much better than that,” South Grand Prairie Head Coach David Fisher said. “We had offense, we had defense, we had special teams, and we had everything in the mix.”
South Grand Prairie teammates were forced to chase down their ecstatic Warrior hero, finally catching him at the opposing goal line to the shouts and screams from fans and students alike as the team celebrated an inspiring season opening victory.
As swiftly as Wiggs’ winner gave the Warriors a 38-35 victory, the scoreboard was shutoff almost immediately in an effort to quickly erase the conclusion to the Wolves’ 2006 opener.
But there’s no escaping the reality of Friday night’s final seconds, as the underdog Warriors picked up a wild win over the overconfident Wolves.
If the Warriors were looking for a winning way to blaze into the 2006 pigskin season, they couldn’t have picked a better way to do it.
Down 14-0 to begin the game, the Warriors battled back, time and time again, to enter the locker room at the half trailing by just one touchdown, 21-14.
After a solid special teams’ effort forced a fumble on a punt return, the Warriors recovered the pigskin at the 12-yard-line to setup their first score of the game.
And with 10:33 remaining in the second quarter, South Grand Prairie’s Denzel Dewberry crossed the goal line untouched to cut into the Wolves lead, 14-7.
Plano West took a 21-7 lead with 8:30 remaining in the first half, but South Grand Prairie’s defense came to the rescue, forcing a fumble and recovering the football to setup the Warriors in the red-zone at the 15-yard-line.
With 3:54 left in the second quarter, South Grand Prairie notched another touchdown to inch closer to the Wolves, 21-14.
Defense was the key in the first half for the Warriors, as solid defensive efforts forced two fumbles which resulted in two touchdowns.
But the Warriors came out looking like a different team to begin the second half, executing their offense to near perfection as their defense remained solid.
In a rousing halftime speech, Coach Fisher motivated his Warriors to the certainty of a comeback win, stressing the significance of scoring to begin the second half.
“I got in there and told them we couldn’t have played any worse and we were still in it 21-14,” Coach Fisher said. “And I’m proud of our kids and coaches, at the half we made some good adjustments… and we talk all the time about the most important possession of the game is the first one of the third quarter.”
And score they did, as the Warriors heeded the words of their head coach, tacking on a touchdown to begin the third quarter to deadlock the game 21-21.
After a touchback started the Warriors drive at the 20-yard-line, Dewberry and company marched down the field and into the endzone to tie the game, 21-21.
With 8:33 remaining in the third quarter, Julian Shankle crossed the goal line on an 11-yard run to deadlock the score.
Then, South Grand Prairie took their first lead of the game, 28-21, gaining momentum by the moment as teammates and coaches on the sidelines, as well as students and fans in the stands, stood to applaud their young Warriors.
A poor snap by the Wolves resulted in the football flying over the head of the punter as the Warriors took possession at the 6-yard-line.
And all it took was one play to give South Grand Prairie the lead, as Shankle sprinted into the endzone to give the Warriors a 28-21 lead with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Although the Wolves battled back to take a 35-28 lead, due in a large part to awful officiating, the Warriors would have the final say on Friday night in Plano.
“I tell the kids, ‘you let me take care of the officials and you guys just play – we’re not going to change their minds,’ but I am going to go battle for our kids,” Coach Fisher said. “But we did have a couple of tough calls, but that’s a tough line of work doing that officiating.
“Again, as soon as that game is over, I’m just as happy as can be and those guys [the officials] did a tremendous job. I’ve never lost a game due to the officials and I’m never going to.”
The Warriors took the pigskin on the ensuing punt return and rushed 103 yards into the endzone, but a flag by the officials negated the touchdown as South Grand Prairie took over at the 16-yard-line.
South Grand Prairie went on to tie the game 35-35 with 5:48 remaining in regulation in an impressive 84-yard scoring drive.
The most exciting play of the drive came when one of South Grand Prairie’s smallest Warriors, senior receiver Rakin Rigsby, made a remarkable catch and then amazingly held onto the ball after a massive tackle sent the receiver’s helmet flying across the field.
“That was a great catch,” Coach Fisher said. “We had to have every play like that to have a chance to win. Give all the credit in the world to Plano West, their coaches did a tremendous job to come out wound up and jump on us 14-0 before we opened our popcorn. I was proud of our coaches and kids, though, for making some really good halftime adjustments.”
Rigsby’s phenomenal reception gave the Warriors a first down at the 14-yard-line, setting up South Grand Prairie’s game-tying touchdown.
With 5:48 left in the game, South Grand Prairie’s Dewberry crossed the goal line on a quarterback keeper touchdown.
After tying the game 35-35 and then forcing the Wolves to punt away, the game clock read 4:00 and counting in regulation.
And once the Warriors took possession at midfield, it was time for the Dewberry show, as the senior South Grand Prairie quarterback led his teammates down the field to the 16-yard line as the clock hit 3.5 seconds before Coach Fisher’s timeout.
A decisive third-down conversion with 56.4 seconds remaining in regulation, a successful completion to the Warriors’ Gessum Fadul, gave South Grand Prairie a first down at the 15-yard-line.
And after Shankle took a handoff up the middle to setup for a field goal, the clock ticked down to 3.5 seconds before the Warriors called a timeout.
After Plano West drained all three of their final timeouts, South Grand Prairie’s Wiggs powered the Warriors to a 38-35 victory with a successful 33-yard field goal.
“I’m really proud of Carson Wiggs, who does all of our kicking duties,” Coach Fisher said. “He had a great punt all night long, helped pinning them back there, and kicked that [game-winning] filed goal, made every extra point, and it’s the first varsity game he’s every kicked in, in his life.
“We had a new snapper, new holder, new kicker, and they go 5-for-5 on PAT’s and make a game-winning field goal. We’re really proud of the guys and we’re really happy for them.”
With Friday night’s fight-to-the-finish win, South Grand Prairie opens the 2006 campaign with a 1-0 record as Coach Fisher and his players aim to remain on a Warrior high in a battle against Mansfield Summit on Friday, Sept. 8 at Mansfield ISD Stadium beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Sports Editor Denton Ramsey can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org