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Turnover woes again plague Polk in setback at R-S Central

Victory slipped away Friday night from Polk County – all too literally

FOREST CITY – Victory slipped away Friday night from Polk County – all too literally.

The Wolverines’ early-season turnover woes continued, and each miscue seemed to give R-S Central confidence and momentum. The final one also gave the Hilltoppers the beginning of their winning drive in a 13-12 victory at Hilltopper Stadium.

Statistically – and to the naked eye – Polk County had the better evening. The Wolverines (1-2) returned to the double slot offense they employed at the end of last year and moved the ball effectively, especially early in the game. Polk also found success out of the set with its short passing game, enjoying its best night through the air this season.

But all of that proved little consolation on an evening where Nick McDaniel’s fourth-quarter extra point – and two failed conversions on Polk County’s end – proved the difference for R-S Central (1-2).

“I think we’ve had 11 turnovers in three games. That’s defining our season right now,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “If we don’t turn the ball over in the first half, we should be up four scores. We’ve got to find a way to prevent that from happening.”

Not helping Polk County’s cause was a foot injury on the final play of the first quarter to running back Bryson Seay, who had already amassed 88 yards and a touchdown on just eight carries to that point as well as notched a tackle for a loss. Ollis said the Wolverines are optimistic that the injury is just a sprain, and with two weeks until Polk County next takes the field at East Henderson, Seay might not miss any game action.

“I thought the new scheme worked to perfection,” Ollis said. “It certainly hurt to lose Bryson. We’re hopeful that’s just a sprained foot. We had other guys who came in and played well. Cameron Blackwell came in and ran hard, Brady Hall came in and ran hard.

“I told our players that I wasn’t trying to sound like Debbie Downer, but the reality is something we’ve got to face up to. You certainly can’t paint a rosy picture.”

Polk County’s Jordan Bishop finds running room around left end early in the second quarter of Friday’s game.

Seay gave Polk County an early lead, scoring on a 3-yard run midway through the first quarter. That came after the Wolverines suffered an interception at the goal line on their first series, halting one early threat. Polk went for two points on the conversion attempt after Seay’s score but came up short, leaving its lead at 6-0.

The Wolverines forced an R-S punt and scored again on their next possession, a 57-yard drive lasting six plays. Mitchell Yoder capped the series with a 4-yard scamper around right end, but the ensuing extra-point attempt failed, leaving the Wolverines up 12-0 with 2:43 left in the first.

The Wolverines began their fourth possession from their 5, a 30-yard Seay run getting them away from the goal line but also being the play on which he was hurt. Polk continued to move the ball as the second quarter began before fumbling at the Hilltopper 36.

The remaining Polk series the rest of the way: Punt, punt, stopped on downs, fumble, punt, stopped on downs, stopped on downs.

R-S Central’s offense began to come to life in the third period, and the Hilltoppers sliced the Wolverines’ lead in half late in the quarter as quarterback Bryson Flynn shook free for a 38-yard scoring run. Polk fumbled near midfield on its next drive, and the Hilltoppers covered 54 yards in three plays, with Xavier Toms taking a pitch around right end for a 35-yard scoring run. McDaniel’s extra point at the 10:45 mark gave R-S a lead it wouldn’t lose.

Polk quarterback Avery Edwards finished 10-of-14 for 77 yards, with Cameron Blackwell adding 41 yards rushing on 10 carries to Seay’s total. The Wolverines held a 252-233 advantage in total yards. Toms finished with 106 yards on 17 carries to lead the Hilltoppers.

“Give (R-S Central) credit. They made plays with the game on the line,” Ollis said. “They possessed the ball at the end and we couldn’t get them off the field.

“I told our quarterbacks after the game that this too will pass. But we’ve got to find a way to make plays and possess the ball offensively.”

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