WINDER — The Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs may have created an identity for themselves Friday night against the Jackson County Panthers — one of resilience.
After trailing the Panthers in the fourth quarter, Winder-Barrow was able to overcome its deficit and some late scares to trump Jackson County 26-21.
“I told the captains before the game that we have a lot of babies on the field and there’s going to be mistakes and bad things are going to happen,” Winder-Barrow head coach David Wagner said. “How you react to the bad is going to dictate how the football game is going to turn out. You make those mistakes and we made them and luckily persevered.”
Winder-Barrow didn’t have to wait long for its first score of the season. Following a Jackson County fumble on its first play, the Bulldoggs’ Chandon Sullivan took a counter play to the right side and ran it 25 yards into the end zone to go up 7-0.
The Bulldoggs kept the trend going in the second, again scoring on its first play of the second quarter on a 29-yard TD pass from Hunter Cooper to Markesio Anderson on a wide receiver screen.
Despite missing the extra point, the Bulldoggs showed their first sign of toughness when they stuffed the Panthers on a fourth down play on their 5-yard line to go into halftime with a 13-7 lead.
But the lead didn’t last long as the Panthers struck back with 5:30 in the third quarter off a 51-yard touchdown run by Keyshawn Curry to go up by one.
The score remained so until about the same time in the fourth quarter when Sullivan took over for the Bullddogs. Starting at their own 35, Winder-Barrow went to Sullivan and he took a run to the right and busted it 55 yards to Jackson County’s 10-yard line.
Three plays later, Winder-Barrow saw the scoreboard change in their favor.
“The Sullivan kid is doing everything that we expected him to do,” Wagner said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, he’s a tremendous leader, student. He has impeccable character. He’s the epitome of what we want a Winder-Barrow High School student-athlete to be. Like I keep telling him, ‘the football ain’t heavy. As long as you have legs underneath you we’re going to keep giving it to you.’ Chandon, he’s amazing.”
After another Sullivan touchdown with 3:41 left in the fourth, the game was all but over until the Panthers made a late run.
The Panthers got a TD from Malik Trucks, then the Bulldoggs gave the ball back to Jackson County on a botched snap with two minutes to win the game.
Winder-Barrow stood strong and stopped the Panthers on four straight plays to secure their first victory of the season.
“I had some nightmares over the course of those 48 minutes,” Wagner said. “When we fumbled down there with that 3-something left to go, that’s how Jackson County to the lead on us last year. We fumbled a routine hand-off. My hats are off to the kids. They just fought.”
Winder-Barrow: Chandon Sullivan 25 run (Colin Shannon kick) 11:36
Jackson County: Xavier Harper 35 catch (Luis Sanchez)
Winder-Barrow: Markesio Anderson 29 catch (kick failed)
Jackson County: · Keyshawn Curry 51 run (Sanchez Kick)
Jackson County: · Malik Truck 13 run (Sanchez Kick)
Winder-Barrow: Sullivan 8 run (Failed two-point conversion)
Winder-Barrow: Sullivan 5 run (Shannon Kick)