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Polk Middle thwarts late Canton threat to stay unbeaten

Grant Wooten intercepted a Canton pass with 53 seconds remaining Thursday, helping preserve Polk Middle’s 13-12 win over the Bears on a steamy afternoon of Blue Ridge Middle School Conference football action.

Polk County Middle School needed someone to make a key play late in Thursday’s home opener against Canton Middle School.

Grant Wooten happily obliged.

Wooten intercepted a Canton pass with 53 seconds remaining, helping preserve Polk Middle’s 13-12 win over the Bears on a steamy afternoon of Blue Ridge Middle School Conference football action.

Taking over near midfield with 2:27 remaining and trailing by a point, Canton picked up one first down and reached the Polk 35 with 1:03 left in the game.

There, facing 2nd-and-7 and following a timeout, the Bears attempted just their second pass of the game, a deep post pattern. Wooten, though, was in perfect position and picked off the pass, ensuring Polk Middle would improve to 2-0 on the season.

“Canton’s offensive line really moved us off the ball,” said Polk Middle head coach Ethan Edwards. “But someone came through at the end and made a play.

“It was really good for us to have to battle one out until the end. They threw two passes in the game, and we were able to intercept the last one.”

The opening two quarters served as a primer on ball possession. Taking the opening kickoff, Polk County took more than six minutes off the clock, Bryson Seay capping the drive with a 17-yard touchdown scamper over the left side of the line. Ava Marino drilled the extra point to give the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.

Canton, though, took the ensuing kickoff and fashioned an even longer drive, using the final 1:44 of the first quarter and all of the second, driving to the Polk County 2 as the final seconds ticked away. Out of timeouts there, Canton barely snapped the ball in time, but did so and quarterback Tyler Pressley bulled into the end zone with no time left on the clock.

Polk, though, stopped Canton’s 2-point try, leaving the Wolverines up 7-6 at the half.

After stopping the Bears’ first drive of the third period, Polk took possession and needed just one play to score. At the Canton 44, Seay took a dive play into the right side of the line, broke a couple of tackles, bounced outside and set sail for the end zone, his touchdown scamper giving him four scores for the season.

After lengthy deliberation, Polk decided to go for the 2-point conversion, hoping to take a nine-point lead, but Canton stopped Seay shy of the goal line, leaving the Wolverines up 13-6 with 3:10 left in the third period.

The Bears then put together a 65-yard scoring drive, converting a fourth-and-6 along the way before Dillon Greene scored on a short run with 6:33 left in the game. Polk County, though, stopped the Bears’ 2-point try, preserving its lead and, ultimately, the win.

“I was really happy with the opening drive,” Edwards said. “We took up a lot of time with our ball control. Then we had another one-play drive for a touchdown/

Polk Middle travels to Brevard next Thursday, facing the Blue Devils at 4:30 p.m.

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