Wolverines corral Wildcats with solid across-the-board effort
VALDESE – As the fourth quarter arrived Saturday, an official came running over to Polk County’s sideline with a most unexpected request.
Draughn’s coaching staff wanted a running clock for the final period.
The Wolverines, gladly, agreed.
The result was certainly unforseen, but the manner in which it unfolded was comprehensive, Polk County dominating every phase of its non-conference clash with Draughn en route to a 30-0 victory.
The Wolverines (5-3) spent the week with legtimate concerns about stopping a Draughn team (5-4) that had won five of its last six games. The Wildcats, though, were playing for the third time in nine days, and that plus the margin undoubtedly led to the clock request.
Make no mistake, though – the Wolverines’ margin of victory was no fluke. Polk County forced three turnovers, held Draughn to 128 total yards and scored in each phase of the game – offense, defense and special teams.
“We told our players this was like a playoff game for us,” said Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis. “We approached it that way and we had a different edge tonight. We executed awfully well. Very seldom do you put up a goose egg, and that’s a huge deal. I think it’s a huge motiavtor going into next week and finishing up the regular season.
“It feels good to play like this against a team that was 5-3 and very well-coached. We were solid across the board, special teams, offense, defense. We had several guys tonight play their best game of the year, and when that happens, you pitch a shutout and you score 30.”
Trailing 21-0 at halftime, any hope Draughn held of a rally largely ended when Polk County scored nine points in a span of 23 seconds in the third quarter.
The Wolverines received the ball to open the second half and actually scored on their third play, a long touchdown pass to Keaundrae Green, only to see that score negated by a penalty. Green had two touchdowns called back due to flags during the night.
Polk responded by instead methodically driving downfield, converting a 3rd-and-26 and a fourth-and-3 to reach the Draughn 8 before the drive stalled.
On the Wildcats’ ensuing offensive snap, quarterback Eli Tillery dropped back to pass, pressure pushing him back into the end zone before Steven Chupp, blitzing from his safety position, reached Tillery a step before teammate Kanye Staley and dropped him in the end zone for a safety, upping the Wolverine lead to 23-0.
That forced Draughn to free kick from its 20, and its initial effort sailed out of bounds. After some confusion about the placement of the ball, Ollis decided to accept the penalty and force Draughn to rekick. Chupp fielded that boot at the Polk 49, weaved through a pack of defenders and raced to the end zone. Logan Nodine’s extra point made it 30-0 with 5:56 left in the third.
“And that’s why you have them rekick,” Ollis said to players and coaches on the sideline.
Chupp nearly returned a first-quarter punt for a score, his 24-yard sprint giving Polk possession at the Wildcat 34. The Wolverines needed just four plays to score, with Angus Weaver taking a pitch around left end, cutting back and rumbling to the end zone. Weaver also surpassed 2,500 career rushing yards on the play, which gave Polk an early 7-0 lead.
Weaver struck again on Polk’s next offensive snap, picking his way through the middle of Draughn’s defense, then bouncing outside and outrunnig a Wildcat defender to the end zone. The 62-yard scamper upped Polk’s lead to 14-0 with 10:56 left in the second quarter.
Ollis called for a fake punt on 4th-and-12 at his 16 on the Wolverines’ next drive – and converted, with Weaver teaming with Chupp on a 37-yard pass. The Wolverines didn’t convert that into points, but did tally again just before the half as Casey Beiler tossed a pass across the middle to Green, who manueuvered through a pair of defenders and found an open path to the goal line, that score making it 21-0 with 1:06 left in the half.
“We just knew the fake punt was probably going to be there,” Ollis said. “Coach (Jamie) Thompson was the architect of that. He runs that show and we called it and it worked to perfection. A great throw and catch by Angus and Chupp.
“The play that Keaundrae made right before the half, where he broke off a route and got open, ran back to the quarterback and just made a tremendously athletic move to score. And then he had the pick right before halftime (Green also had an interception in the fourth quarter).”
Beiler finished 14-of-29 for 173 yards with a touchdown, with Chupp catching four passes for 93 yards and Green grabbing five passes for 66 yards. Weaver rushed for 120 yards on 12 carries.
Draugn’s Nigel Dula had 94 yards on 21 carries, with Tillery held to just 50 yards on 7-of-17 attempts.
Polk County concludes its regular season on Friday, traveling to Brevard for a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference matchup.
POLK COUNTY 30, DRAUGHN 0
Polk County 7 14 9 0 — 30
Draughn 0 0 0 0 — 0
PC – Angus Weaver 16 run (Logan Nodine kick), 3:47
PC – Weaver 62 run (Nodine kick), 10:56
PC – Keaundrae Green 41 pass from Casey Beiler (Nodine kick), 1:06
PC – Steven Chupp safety, 6:19
PC – Chupp 51 punt return (Nodine kick), 5:56
Polk County – Angus Weaver 12-120, Mackus Simpson 2-22, Karlen McEntyre 5-11, Casey Beiler 1-3, Team 2-(-2). Draughn – Nigel Dula 21-94, Elijah Tillery 2-(-17).
Polk County – Casey Beiler 14-29-0-173, Angus Weaver 1-1-0-37. Draughn – Elijah Tillery 7-17-3-50, John Robert Abernathy 1-3-0-1.
Polk County – Steven Chupp 4-93, Keaundrae Green 5-66, Deaken Nodine 2-20, Jacob Knighton 2-18, Antonio Simpson 2-13. Draughn – Conner Pinketon 2-14, Tywan Nemorin 1-13, Nigel Dula 2-12, Riley Cooper 2-11, Jacob Mull 1-1.