Wiggs’ kick lifts Warriors to 20-17 homecoming victory over Colonels
Wiggs’ kick lifts Warriors to 20-17 homecoming victory over Colonels
By Denton Ramsey / Sports Editor
It’s become a theme for the Warriors of South Grand Prairie High School: go down by a score or more then battle back for a victory.
Such was the case, once again, on Friday night at the Gopher-Warrior Bowl as South Grand Prairie played host to South Garland for homecoming.
However, the Warriors homecoming game began every way but beautiful as the home team found themselves down 9-0 at the half to the Colonels.
But head coach David Fisher lit a fire under the rears of his players at halftime, helping to ignite a courageous comeback as the Warriors came out firing from all cylinders to begin the second half.
And before anyone knew it, the Warriors had jumped on top, 10-9, with 5:00 remaining in the third quarter.
South Grand Prairie pushed their lead and their fans to the brink of excitement as the Warriors scored again, with 2:53 left in the third quarter, to increase their lead to eight, 17-9.
With the Warriors eight-point cushion still intact with a mere 2:35 showing on the game clock, and the Colonels pinned back at their own five-yard line, a victory seemed almost improbable.
But this is the Warriors we’re talking about, and therefore they have to make the game close and exciting.
South Garland drove down the field and into the endzone with 1:31 remaining in the fourth and final quarter, pushing the score to 17-15 as the Colonels were forced to go for the two-point conversion.
And the Colonel’s two-point pass play was completed successfully, as South Garland managed to deadlock the game, 17-17.
But good field position on the ensuing kickoff gave the Warriors the pigskin at the Colonel 38-yard line with 1:24 remaining in the game.
After a complete pass from Denzel Dewberry to Gessum Fadul and a quarterback keeper gave the Warriors a first-down at the Colonel 18-yard line, 43.1 seconds remained in the game as the clock started once again as South Grand Prairie calmly approached the line of scrimmage.
One final push up the middle by Julian Shankle setup South Grand Prairie at the South Garland 16-yard line, and with 2.9 seconds left in the game, the Warriors burned their second timeout as Carson Wiggs prepared himself for yet another potential game-winning field goal.
The Colonels burned a timeout of their own as Wiggs and the special teams unit hit the field, desperately trying to ice the senior kicker.
As the Warriors snap came down and touched the field, Wiggs’ foot pushed the pigskin through the air and successfully through the uprights to a chorus of noise and shouts from fans in the stands and players on the field of play.
The Warriors again rejoiced, as they battled back from being down then held on for dear life, in a 20-17 homecoming victory over the Colonels.
“It’s starting to get tough,” Fisher said. “I’m getting gray hairs way too fast at this rate… we haven’t even got to district yet. But I couldn’t be prouder, because we couldn’t have played any worse in the first half.
“Plano West looked like a darn good first half compared to that [the first half against South Garland] – that was the worst first-half I’ve ever seen. But again, when you’ve got so many inexperienced guys as we do, sometimes we’re going to do some stupid things, and boy we did tonight.”
The Warriors looked awful in the first half, and the score could have been much worse as South Grand Prairie hit the locker room down by just nine after two quarters of play.
South Garland, on the other hand, began the game on the prowl, quickly driving down the field to begin the game before settling for a field goal after the Warriors defense shutdown the Colonels in the red-zone.
The Colonels took a 3-0 lead on a 21-yard field goal with 8:14 left in the first quarter, then tacked on a touchdown with 48.8 seconds remaining in the first half on a 20-yard pass completion.
However, the Colonels’ extra-point kick was no good as South Garland increased their lead to 9-0.
And although a fumble recovery by South Garland gave the visitors possession at the South Grand Prairie 36, the Warriors defense again stepped up to the occasion, twice knocking down the Colonels in the backfield before an interception sent the teams to the locker room for halftime.
The Warriors were held to zero first-downs in the first half, and were held to single digits in both the rushing and passing department.
But the second half proved to be a different game, and a different team, as the Warriors came out on a mission.
And it was a mission that was eventually accomplished in victory.
South Grand Prairie began the second half with possession at their 35-yard line, successfully putting together a 65-yard drive capped off by a Dewberry quarterback keeper touchdown.
With 7:32 remaining in the third quarter, the Warriors finally notched points on the scoreboard as Dewberry dove over his lineman and into the endzone as South Grand Prairie cut in the Colonels lead, 9-7.
And just a few short minutes later, the Warriors struck again – this time on a successful 36-yard field goal by Wiggs gave South Grand Prairie their first lead of the game, 10-9, with 5:00 left in the third quarter.
After the Warriors defense forced the Colonels to punt on three-and-out, South Grand Prairie took over at their 41-yard line.
And three quick plays later, the Warriors entered the endzone on a 49-yard reverse run by Rakin Rigsby to take a 17-9 lead with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.
After a quarterback keeper gave the Warriors a first-down to begin the fourth quarter, South Grand Prairie did a remarkable job of clock management, successfully draining the clock on rushing plays and first-downs until an unsuccessful field goal gave the ball back to the Colonels at the 26-yard line.
With 7:15 left in the fourth quarter, the Colonels pushed the pigskin all the way down to the Warriors 46-yard line before a quarterback punt on a fourth-and-long was blocked and South Grand Prairie took over at the 50-yard line with 5:37 remaining in the game.
This time around, it appeared the eight-point cushion would be enough for the Warriors to hold on as they successfully drove the ball down to the South Garland 36-yard line before a Wiggs’ punt pinned the Colonels deep in their own territory.
With 2:35 left in the game, South Garland took over at their five-yard line before a holding penalty gave the Colonels a first-down at the 15-yard line.
A complete pass to the South Grand Prairie 43-yard line gave the Colonels a first-down with 2:05 left on the game clock, before another complete pass up the left sideline gave South Garland another set of downs from the Warriors 7-yard line.
And with 1:43 remaining in the game and the Colonels sitting on first-and-goal, the Warriors burned their first timeout to discuss defensive plans.
But all plans were for naught as the Colonels successfully entered the endzone with 1:31 left in the game on a 22-yard pass completion to make the score 17-15 as South Garland was forced to go for a two-point conversion.
As a quick pass from the Colonels’ Nick Florence sailed through the air and successfully into the hands of Lemon Roberts, the scoreboard read 17-17, as the Warriors special teams unit hit the field for a kickoff return.
And return it they did, as the Warriors took the pigskin and returned it to the South Garland 38-yard line, rushing to the sidelines with their heads held high as the offense hit the field with 1:24 remaining in the game.
Then, Dewberry and company calmly and coolly marched down the field to the Colonel 16-yard line as the clock continued ticking away.
And with 2.9 seconds left on the game clock, Fisher and his Warriors burned their second timeout as Wiggs prepared for a game-winner in front of a rowdy homecoming crowd.
The Colonels spent a timeout of their own in an attempt to ice South Grand Prairie’s on-target kicker, but nothing was going to stop Wiggs or the Warriors – especially after the way they have begun the season thus far.
And as the clock hit 0:00, Wiggs’ 33-yard kick sailed successfully through the uprights to give the Warriors a dramatic 20-17 come-from-behind victory over the Colonels.
“All the credit in the world to South Garland,” Fisher said. “We had zero first-downs at the half – zero…”
So what did Fisher tell his boys at the half to convince them to turn things around?
“You don’t want to know,” Fisher said with a laugh.
In other words, Fisher’s halftime speech is definitely not anything we could publish – but it worked.
And as long as South Grand Prairie can continue with their Warrior ways, Fisher’s young team will continue to win.
But the young Warriors have got to wake up before district action begins, and thankfully the team has off next week before district action begins.
The Warriors return to the field of play in two weeks, on Sept. 29 for a home match-up against district rival Euless Trinity.
Kickoff for the Sept. 29 district debut is set for 7:30 p.m. at Grand Prairie’s Gopher-Warrior Bowl.
Sports Editor Denton Ramsey can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org