As Polk County Middle rolled through the first half of its schedule this season, head coach Billy Alm knew that, at some point, a challenge would surface to test the Wolverines’ mettle.
That adversity arrived Thursday in the form of Flat Rock Middle School.
And the Wolverines met the challenge – dramatically.
D.J. Twitty raced 38 yards to score the winning touchdown with 54 seconds left as Polk Middle topped Flat Rock 22-14 in a Blue Ridge Middle School Conference clash at PCMS.
“This is the first time this year we’ve had any adversity,” Alm said. “We knew we were going to have this game at some point, and we did. We were a little flat in the first half, and we hadn’t played a game like that yet. But in the second half we really stepped it up and did what we had to do to win.”
A tight, see-saw game throughout featured three key plot twists in the fourth quarter, plays that eventually produced Polk’s fifth win of the season and kept alive the Wolverines’ hopes for the first perfect regular season in school history.
With the game tied at 14-14 entering the fourth quarter, Polk drive to the Flat Rock 14, where the Wolverines converted a fourth-and-one. But on the ensuing play, Flat Rock’s defense produced an interception, giving the Eagles the ball at the 11.
One play later, the Eagles ran a flanker reverse, and Angelo Ferrarini turned that bit of trickery into a 59-yard run that moved Flat Rock away from its end zone and to the Polk 30. But there, on second down and with Flat Rock lined up in a shotgun formation, a bad snap sailed free and was eventually recovered by Polk’s Elijah Sutton at the Polk 46, giving the Wolverines the ball with 3:38 left in the game.
Polk needed four plays to move to the Flat Rock 38, where it faced a third-and-7. With the clock ticking down to the one-minute mark, Polk lined up a pair of receivers to the left, then Kemmerlin handed off to Twitty heading right. The burly back broke through the line and outraced the Flat Rock secondary, sending Polk offensive coordinator John Ruth, arms raised, into a celebratory sprint toward the opposite end zone. Polk added a 2-point conversion for the final margin.
“Offensively, we kept our composure. Coach Ruth kept his composure,” Alm said. “We knew we could fight through it, and he called some great plays for us.
“(On the final scoring play) Coach Ruth said they would be looking for the pass, and if we could get a back in between the tackles, he would not have anybody there to stop him. So we chose our best running back and he found the hole and was gone.”
Flat Rock took an early 8-0 lead, but neither team ever gained an upper hand and the teams finished the half tied at 14. Flat Rock then controlled the ball for much of the third quarter before Polk took over, setting the stage for the dramatic final period.
“At halftime Coach (Ben) Johnson switched our defense, and that was the difference in the second half,” Alm said. “They had that one big play, but we kept stopping them.”
Polk hosts Rugby next week in its final home game of the regular season.