ST. PAULS —Whiteville ran the football 27 times in the second half Friday night at St. Pauls.
It was the Wolfpack’s lone throw with 1:27 remaining that fooled the Bulldogs’ defense and snapped the home team’s four-game winning streak.
“We blew a coverage,” St. Pauls coach Trey Sasser said. “At some point, we knew they would take advantage of play-action.”
Whiteville quarterback Dylan Williams found an uncovered C.J. Hammonds three yards deep in the end zone to cap a game-winning drive that spanned nearly seven minutes as the Wolfpack downed St. Pauls, 24-20.
Trailing by three points with 8:12 remaining, Whiteville converted multiple third downs and marched 80 yards on the strength of Tyqwan McDougal and Terrin Manning between the tackles to set up St. Pauls for Williams’ go-ahead strike to Hammonds.
St. Pauls got the ball back and went nowhere as Whiteville’s defense continued its second-half surge, limiting Malik Livingston and the Bulldogs’ run-heavy offense to 66 yards after intermission.
The Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0), who won just three games all of last season, now find themselves in a three-way tie at the top of the Three Rivers Conference with South Columbus and South Robeson after scoring 17 unanswered points to seal a victory in the first meeting between the two programs in 10 years.
“We haven’t given up but six points in the second half the whole year and our defense really stepped up again for us,” said second-year Whiteville coach Luke Little. “We didn’t panic when we got behind and our guy made a big throw on that last drive.”
St. Pauls (4-2, 1-1) jumped out to a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter with touchdowns on its first three possessions. The game’s opening drive was a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-2 from Damien McMillan.
Livingston’s option pitch was two yards behind the line the of scrimmage but McMillan managed to break a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone with 4:40 left in the opening quarter.
Coming off a three-touchdown performance in last week’s win at Fairmont, McMillan finished with 120 yards rushing on 25 totes but the Bulldogs never found their rhythm offensively after intermission. Livingston was 0-for-5 through the air in the second half and was constantly pressured on the Bulldogs’ two fourth-quarter possessions.
On 4th-and-long near midfield with just over eight minutes remaining, Livingston’s quick kick went into the end zone. Whiteville took over at the 20 and began its go-ahead touchdown drive.
“You can sit in there and fight with them, but they’re going to get their yards,” Sasser said. “We didn’t play well enough to win. You can’t beat a good team playing the way we played.”
The Bulldogs joined the uniform craze with a new black alternate jersey featuring blue and white accents, but Whiteville spoiled the party with timely defense.
Reach staff writer Brad Crawford at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.
Whiteville 24, St. Pauls 20
Whiteville 7 73 7 — 24
St. Pauls6 14 0 0 — 0
STP — Damien McMillan 11 run (run failed)
WHS — Tyqwan McDougal 3 run (Geraldo Maggioli kick)
STP — Malik Livingston 3 run (run failed)
STP — Livingston 3 run (Chuck Walters pass from Livingston)
WHS — Terrin Manning 5 run (Maggioli kick)
WHS — Maggioli 33 Field Goal
WHS — CJ Hammonds 21 pass from Dylan Williams (Maggioli kick)
PASSING — WHS: Williams 2-4-0-27. STP: Livingston 2-7-0-34.
RUSHING — WHS: McDougal 18-116, Manning 19-123. STP: McMillan 25-120, Livingston 18-66.
RECEIVING — WHS: Hammonds 1-21. STP: Hunt 1-29.
RECORDS — Whiteville 5-1, 2-0; St. Pauls 4-2, 1-1.