Photos by Brian Paglia / Locust Grove running back Garrett Wallace takes the handoff with Dutchtown linebacker Cedric Campbell (8) looking to make a tackle Friday.
LOCUST GROVE — Locust Grove’s Keenan Wise scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap what coach Clint Satterfield called the greatest comeback in school history as the Wildcats outlasted Dutchtown 40-37 in a Region 4-AAAA Division A showdown at home.
After Wise’s scoring plunge, Dutchtown star quarterback Donovahn Jones led the Bulldogs on a potential game-tying drive, ripping off runs of 30, 11 and 8 yards. Jones appeared to score the game-winning touchdown on a 7-yard scamper, but it was called back on a holding penalty.
Ryan Kangiser’s 32-yard field goal sailed wide left, and touched off a raucous celebration from the Wildcat faithful.
“This is the biggest win in school history,” Satterfield said. “Anybody that gave us a chance after the way we got down was laughing at us, but this team has been through a lot — lost a teammate. I keep telling people we won’t quit.”
Midway through the first half, it would seem as if Satterfield’s bunch had every reason to chalk this one up as a learning experience.
It took Dutchtown less than two minutes to score the game’s first points when Malik Barkley punctuated a four-play, 60-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring run through the heart of the Locust Grove defense.
Six plays after recovering an onside kick, Barkley found the end zone again on a 2-yard plunge that put the Bulldogs up 14-0 with 8:34 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs’ defense stifled Locust Grove’s dynamic duo of Wise and wide receiver Cortez McDowell for most of the first half. And after Devin Randolph sacked Wise to end a Wildcats’ drive, Jones and company went back to work. The Bulldogs climaxed a 10-play, 67-yard drive with a 25-yard scoring strike from Jones to Cameron Johnson to extend Dutchtown’s lead to 21-0 as the first quarter ended.
By the halfway mark of the second quarter, Dutchtown added a 24-yard field goal by Kangiser and a 4-yard touchdown run by Will Smith to make it 31-0 before Locust Grove even had a chance to respond.
But once they did, the floodgates opened.
The comeback began when Wise shot a pass intended for McDowell over the middle of the field. It was tipped by a Dutchtown linebacker before falling into McDowell’s hands. The junior receiver outran the defense to a 65-yard touchdown with 3:35 left before the half.
Dutchtown gift-wrapped Locust Grove’s next score, when Jones fumbled on the Bulldogs’ second play of the ensuing drive. And five plays later, Wise hit McDowell again — this time on a 7-yard scoring strike to cut the Dutchtown lead to 31-14 going into the half.
It was then that Satterfield said his team began to believe.
“When we got the touchdown and then scored again after the fumble, we knew we had a chance,” Satterfield said. “We had some momentum going into the half and it just kind of carried into the third quarter.”
Specifically, the second play of the third quarter.
The Wildcats got the ball to begin the second half and Wise immediately took to the air, hitting Justin Drake — who Satterfield said played with a torn labrum — for 16 yards on the first play of the third quarter. That’s when Wise found McDowell again — on a 54-yard touchdown that cut Dutchtown’s lead to 11.
Dutchtown seemed forced to punt on its next drive, but coach Jason Galt rolled the dice and called for a fumbleroosky fake punt on fourth-and-26 from his own 35. It failed, and on the next play, McDowell found Wise once again for a 40-yard touchdown, cutting Dutchtown’s lead to 31-26 midway through the third quarter.
The Wildcats took their first lead after holding the Bulldogs to three-and-out. They capped a 12-play, 55-yard drive with Warren Gilbert’s 1-yard score.
After being outscored 32-0, Jones put the Bulldogs on his back and gave them the lead again on an 11-yard touchdown run.
“Number 7 [Jones] is a special, special player,” Satterfield said. “He’s like a man among boys out there. But I don’t want to take anything away from my team and how we played to win it.”
The Bulldogs, who amassed 253 yards rushing in the first half, were held to less than 100 total yards in the second, thanks to some second-half Locust Grove adjustments on the defensive line.
And after Wise was held to 86 yards passing in the first half, the Locust Grove quarterback erupted for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the second.
With the win, Locust Grove improves to 5-1 while Dutchtown drops to 4-2. And Satterfield said he hoped going forward to be able to win less dramatically.
“We’ve got Woodland next week and a bye and two more games,” Satterfield said. “In order to come back like we did tonight, you have to play well in all three phases of the game. Hopefully, we can do that going forward — without spotting the other team 31 points.”