SUMMERVILLE – Facing the first of four key SCISA 3A football games on Friday, Wilson Hall could not have asked for a much better start against Pinewood Prep as the Barons rolled up 35 points in the first half.
Unfortunately for WH, the Panthers flipped the script in the second half – shutting out the Barons and rallying from 21 points down at one point to earn a 44-35 victory.
Pinewood improves to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in 3A play. Wilson Hall falls to 5-2 and 3-2 with a home date against perennial power Hammond set for next Friday at Spencer Field.
It was a stark contrast in halves as the Barons offense went from unstoppable to unable to score at all. WH found the end zone on its first five possessions of the game and the sixth drive was only cut short by the halftime buzzer. The Barons amassed 329 yards of total offense, including 226 on the ground, in an attack that featured three touchdowns from Justin Timmons as they took a 35-21 lead into the break.
The second half was a completely different story with three drives going three-downs-and-out and another three ending in turnovers.
Matthew Latham was the biggest thorn in Wilson Hall’s side. He had an interception early in the third quarter and two key punt returns that eventually led to touchdowns. His run with 18 seconds left in the third brought the Panthers within 35-28 and he scored on a 30-yard screen pass early in the fourth to knot the game at 35-all.
Pinewood tight end Jalen Slawson wasn’t far off from Latham in terms of impact. He had a second-half interception as well and his 15-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Ethan Hirsh gave the Panthers their first and only lead of the night, 42-35, with 6:31 remaining in the game. Pinewood added a safety on a botched Wilson Hall punt snap that went out of the back of the end zone for the final score.
It was a bitter ending for a Barons squad that had been in control since the very first play. Brandon Carraway returned the opening kickoff 75 yards and a penalty gave Wilson Hall first and goal inside the Pinewood 10.
Timmons scored his first TD of the night, this one from seven yards out to put WH up 6-0 after a blocked PAT.
The Barons then proceeded to score on four straight drives that covered 60 yards or more. The first came at the 4:03 mark when Landon VanPatten found the end zone from eight yards out and Timmons added the 2-point conversion as the Barons went up 14-0.
The Panthers cut the deficit in half on their next drive, however, as Austin Murphy found Slawson for a 50-yard hookup on his first score of the evening.
WH responded with an 80-yard drive of its own as Timmons found paydirt again – this time from 55 yards out – as the Barons went up 21-7. He earned the hat trick on the next possession with a 6-yard run, but the extra point was blocked again as Wilson Hall grabbed a 27-7 advantage.
However, just when the game looked like the Barons were taking control, Pinewood responded with two touchdowns in the last 4-plus minutes of the half. Latham scored on a 17-yard run and Murphy tossed his second TD pass of the night – this time from 55 yards out to Mills Rowland.
Luckily for Wilson Hall, in between the two scores freshman quarterback Wise Segars found VanPatten for close to a 50-yard TD strike. Graham VanPatten ran in the 2-point conversion for a 2-touchdown lead by the Barons – one they did not relinquish until the fateful fourth quarter.