Warriors stifle T-Wolves' offense
MABEN â€“ Down 15 points with just seconds to play, West Oktibbeha quarterback Von Smith simply took a knee.
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There was no need to press the issue in what was simply not a good night for Smith or the Timberwolves offense.
The sophomore signal caller was picked off four times and West Oktibbeha never found any semblance of offensive rhythm as Nanih Waiya defeated the Timberwolves 21-6.
"Once Von got hit a couple of times, he started looking at the rush," said West Oktibbeha head coach Adam Lowrey. "When he would look up to throw, he would have no idea where the coverage was. I train him to read the coverage and with him not looking at the correct guy, he just got flustered."
With the win, Nanih Waiya (6-2, 6-0 in Class A, Region 3) maintained the top spot in the division.
West Oktibbeha (6-3, 5-2 in Class A, Region 3) could have overtaken the Warriors with a victory.
Smith wasn't the only player on Lowrey's offense to get shut down by Nanih Waiya. His primary receiving target, Dwight Quinn, was limited to just two catches for 27 yards.
"They stopped all my routes," said Quinn. "They had a corner on top of me who really wasn't holding me. He just covered my outs and my slants. Then they had a safety on top of me that stopped all my (go-routes) and posts. They just play great defense."
Nanih Waiya scored on its first offensive possession, driving 51 yards in just under three minutes.
From that point the game turned into a defensive struggle with the only other points of the first half coming when Quinn returned an interception 85 yards for a score.
The Timberwolves missed the extra point, letting the Warriors maintain a 7-6 lead into the locker room.
Still, with the offense stuttering, plays such as Quinn's return and a late third quarter goal-line stand kept West Oktibbeha in the game.
"Our defense played the best game they've played," said Lowrey. "We played one of the best teams in the state, had five turnovers, and it was 21-6."
Early in the third quarter, Nanih Waiya went up 14-6 on a 65-yard run by Martin Johnson.
However, much like in the first half, West Oktibbeha couldn't get its offense in gear.
"I was really proud of our defense," said Nanih Waiya head coach Tate Hanna. "The defensive backs did a great job. They held (Quinn) to just the two catches. That was surprising to me because I thought he'd have more than that. (West Oktibbeha) is the most athletic team I've seen."
Hanna's praise aside, the Timberwolves athleticism couldn't overcome the talent of the Warriors.
With just under five minutes to play, Zack Vandevender capped the scoring on a 1-yard run, putting the final dagger in West Oktibbeha's hopes.
After each team alternated possessions over the final moments, Smith found the ball in his hands with just seconds to play, but Lowrey chose to simply go ahead and end the night by calling the kneel-down.
"The thing about Von is, he's still young," said Quinn. "The thing he don't understand is, when you throw that first interception, you forget about it. Once you throw it, it's gone. I told him on the sidelines 'it's over with buddy.' But we've got good-hearted players on this sideline that will take this loss like a man. We give (Nanih Waiya) congratulations, but we're not done yet."
Like Quinn, Lowrey says his team will overcome the loss and bounce back after a bye week next week, drawing strength from their faith.
"The Bible says discipline will make you better and we believe in the Good Lord and that he disciplines those he loves," said Lowrey. "That's all tonight was for us. Discipline will make us stronger and make us all bigger men."