FROM STAFF REPORTS
COLUMBIA - For the second consecutive year, Wilson Hall's varsity football team failed to solve the conundrum of Heathwood Hall.
The Barons opened their fifth football season under the leadership of head coach Adam Jarecki …
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The Barons opened their fifth football season under the leadership of head coach Adam Jarecki on Friday with a 10-7 loss to the Highlanders.
Wilson Hall had its share of opportunities, but penalties played a key role in undermining those chances.
"We had opportunities, and we shot ourselves in the foot," Jarecki said after the season-opening loss. "We had opportunities and we just didn't capitalize on them. It was a great effort, they did everything that we wanted them to and we played a good defensive game. We missed a couple of chances. We had the ball down close three times and didn't get anything out of it, and that hurt. Penalties, penalties, 75 yards in penalties, all holds after big plays, and we've got to clean it up."
The Barons scored on a 21-yard Emory Moore run with 1:47 left in the third quarter to take a 7-3 lead. The 7-play, 58-yard drive answered an 8-play, 56-yard Highlander drive that ended in the game's first points, a 27-yard Tanner Grayson field goal at the 5:32 mark.
Two possessions later, Heathwood Hall began what would be the game-winning drive from its 36. Eleven plays later, quarterback Alex Lewis connected with Az'hane Salaam for a 14-yard touchdown pass and a 10-7 lead with 4:46 remaining.
The ensuing kickoff brought excitement for Wilson Hall as Doc Walker took the kick at his 3 and raced down the sidelines for 85 yards before being taken down at the Highlanders 12. Facing a third down and six yards to go from the 8, Graham VanPatten took the ball to the 2 for what appeared to be a first-and-goal, but a holding penalty pushing the ball back to the 14. Sophomore quarterback Tate Sistare found Moore open for a 10-yard gain, giving the Barons a chance with a fourth-and-2 from the 4, but VanPatten was tackled about a foot short of the elusive first-and-goal.
The Highlanders took over at their 3 and managed two first downs to run off the final 2:45 and seal the win, running their record to 1-1 after opening the season with a 26-20 loss to Robert E. Lee last Friday.
The teams opened the game with one first down on their respective first possessions before punting the ball away. The Baron defense held the Highlanders without a first down on the game's third offensive series, but Grayson got off a 41-yard punt to pin Wilson Hall at its 9.
From there, the Barons dominated possession time in what would be a scoreless first half, holding the ball for 18 and 15 plays on their next two possessions. On the 18-play drive started at the 9, VanPatten, Walker and Moore combining for 80 rushing yards. The drive advanced as far as the Heathwood Hall 3 before a delay pushed it back to the 8. Sistare was tackled for a 2-yard loss before Noah Tavarez came up short on a 26-yard field goal attempt.
The Highlander offense managed one first down on its third possession before punting the ball back to the Barons. Starting from its 36, Wilson Hall managed 33 yards on the ground along with 19 yards from Sistare through the air before stalling at the Heathwood Hall 25. Penalties on consecutive plays pushed the ball back to the 45, with an 8-yard pass from Sistare to VanPatten leaving a third down and 22 yards to go. VanPatten would punt the ball in the dying seconds of the half, leaving the Highlanders time to get off one play before the end of the half.
Wilson Hall closed the half with nine first downs and 153 yards total offense while Heathwood Hall ended the opening two quarters with 47 yards of offense and two first downs.
Among the Baron gains wiped out by holding penalties were a 32-yard run by Moore that would have put the ball at the Highlander 11 with the game still scoreless early in the second half and a 40-yard Van Patten scamper on the first play of Wilson Hall's first series after Moore's touchdown run.
Had it stood, Van Patten's run would have advanced the ball from the Baron 20 to the Highlander 40. Instead, the ball came back to the Wilson Hall 13, the Barons punted four plays later and Heathwood Hall would then embark on its winning drive.
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