With starting senior quarterback Jacob Cotton sidelined with an illness on Friday, Wilson Hall turned to freshman signal caller Wise Segars to run the offense against Cardinal Newman.
"We told him in the locker room before the game that we were behind him," junior split end/defensive back Chandler Scott said. "Our plan was to run it and get them thinking, 'Run, run, run,' then hit them with the pass.
"It worked out."
Boy did it. The Barons got a pair of big pass plays in the second quarter — including a 24-yard touchdown strike from Segars to Scott — as they racked up four scores in the span of just over nine minutes.
Wilson Hall's ball-hawking defense did the rest. The Barons picked off four passes — including two by Scott — and held the Cardinals to 162 yards of total offense in a dominating 35-0 victory at Spencer Field.
With the win, WH improved to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in SCISA 3A play with a non-conference matchup at Thomas Sumter Academy in Dalzell slated for next Friday. CN fell to 2-3 and 0-3.
"Really proud of our defense and our defensive staff," Barons head coach Adam Jarecki said. "What a great job they did to get the shutout. That's kind of our goal every week. We made some nice plays and got some pressure on (Cardinals quarterback Jason Olds) — and the right kind of pressure. We were worried about him getting flushed out of the pocket and running a little bit.
"We also did a really nice job in pass coverage against some really good athletes that they've got."
The Cardinals had just 80 yards of offense through three quarters and 49 of that was through the air. They made a few big plays in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too little, too late.
The game turned from a defensive struggle to a blowout in the second quarter. After misfiring on a couple drives in the opening frame, the Barons finally found their footing with a 6-play drive that culminated in Justin Timmons' 5-yard TD run to put WH up 7-0 with 10:51 left in the half.
Cardinal Newman got its offense on track too, however. Managing just 12 yards on eight plays (including two punts) in the opening quarter, the Cardinals drove into Barons territory for the first time — right before Scott came up with his first pick of the night.
The grind-it-out Wilson Hall offense then became a big-play attack. Landon VanPatten found Jake Meyers for a 39-yard hookup and Brandon Carraway added a 30-yard scamper to the end zone to make the score 14-0.
On CN's next drive, Olds was picked off again, this time by Cambell deHoll. That set up the Segars-to-Scott connection and a 21-0 Barons' lead.
"We're scoring after turnovers and those are big momentum things," Jarecki said. "That's what we want to do. Every time we get a big turnover, we want to try to capitalize on it."
VanPatten put the final exclamation point on the game-changing surge with a 16-yard TD run with 1:33 left before the break. Andrew McCaffrey added a 38-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for good measure.
The only question that really remained the rest of the way was if the Barons could pull off the shutout. It appeared dicey in the fourth quarter when CN found some rhythm in is passing game, marching from its own 20 to the WH 8-yard line. But on fourth-and-goal, Noah Harvin out-battled Cards tight end Patrick Reedy for the ball in the back corner of the end zone to end the threat. Scott came up with his second INT on the last play of the game.
"We've just tried to stay behind everybody," Scott said of the WH secondary's outstanding performance. "We tried to lock down No. 81 (Reedy) tonight and keep someone on him all night."
Segars acquitted himself well in his impromptu start, with a first-quarter fumble being his only real blemish on the night. He completed two of his three passes for the one score and also wound up second on the team with 60 yards rushing on six carries.
"He made a couple iffy decisions early on, but when he started working his way out, nobody was accounting for him," Jarecki said. "So he picked up some big yards. Great decisions by him. Perfect game for him to step into that role."
McCaffrey wound up leading Wilson Hall with 75 yards on seven carries, 66 yards of which came in the fourth quarter. Timmons, VanPatten and Carraway all had 44 yards or more as the Barons piled up a combined 341 yards on the ground.