Last second heroics put Warriors in playoffs
Fourth and one with 30 seconds left on the clock.
That was all that separated the Whittell Warriors (4-3 overall, 4-2 league) and the playoffs.
Whittell was down 20-15 and on the Independence (2-5, 2-4) 6-yard line when head coach Larry Reilly called his last time-out.
“I went out there and asked the team what play would work,” the coach said. “Matt Lincoln said he could blow his guy off the line, so we went with the dive.”
“It was there the whole day,” Lincoln said. “Reilly wanted to go for a pass and I told him the dive would work.”
Joel Warnick took the handoff from quarterback Keith Truswell and rumbled to the goal line, falling just short of the end zone.
Then with 14 seconds left and the clock running, Truswell faked the handoff to Warnick and took it around the end for the winning score, the Warriors then added a two-point conversion to give them a three-point win, 23-20, and a playoff berth.
“It was a fake dive,” the senior signal caller said. “I just put my head down and ran it.”
The final drive capped a 12-point comeback by the Warriors. Coming out of the break down 20-8, Whittell played intense defense, holding the Colts scoreless in the final 24 minutes of play.
The Warriors sacked the Colts’ quarterback Anthony Schembri three times in the second half with Nick Summers recording two of them.
“The defense just played great for us,” Truswell said. “They really shut down their offense in the second half.”
It was not only the defense that came to play in the second half as the offensive line began to open gaping holes for the backs to run through and gave Truswell adequate time to pass.
After the Warriors recovered an onside kick to open the second half, the Warrior offense marched 52 yards to the Colt 9-yard line before Truswell had the ball knocked loose at the goal line.
The combination of Joey Massa, Luke Forvilly, and Warnick ran through the Colt defense with the help of the line.
“We (the offensive line) stepped it up in the second half,” Lincoln said.
The Warriors pulled within striking distance after they recovered a fumbled snap deep within Colt territory. Joey Massa punched the ball in from a yard out and Forvilly’s kick made in 20-15 with 10:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“You can’t wait for three quarters and expect to win,” Reilly said. “I’m really proud of the way they played in the fourth quarter, they’ve could’ve gotten down on themselves. But, as I told them sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.”
In the first half it was the Colt defense which played well, holding the Warriors to a lone touchdown.
Independence got the first tally when Cordell Jones punched it in from five yards out, capping a 60-yard drive. The Warriors held the Colts to three and out, forcing Independence to punt, but Warnick bumped the punter on a block attempt, keeping the drive alive.
In the march down the field, Jones carried the ball five times for 25 yards, including the touchdown.
The two-point conversion failed, leaving the Colt lead at 6-0.
Whittell answered the Colt score with a score of its own, when Warnick ran the ball in from six yards out. Forvilly’s run around the end gave the Warriors the lead at 8-6 with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter.
That lead was short-lived as Jones broke off a 64-yard touchdown run to regain the lead for the Colts. With the two-point conversion good, the Colts went up 14-8.
With seven minutes left in second quarter, the Colts scored again when Schembri ran it in from 11 yards out. During the drive, the Colts went away from the run and threw the ball to move down the field.
“They were starting to key on him (Jones),” Colt head coach Clark Davidson said. “Our passing game was working well. We dominated in the first half.”
The win gave the Warriors sole possession of third place going into the Lovelock game Friday. Lovelock lost to Incline on Saturday, leaving both teams tied for fourth at 3-3.
IHS 14 6 0 0 – 20
WHS 8 0 0 15- 23
IHS Jones 5 run (conversion failed)
WHS Warnick 6 run (Forvilly run good)
WHS Jones 64 run (two point conversion good)
IHS Schembri 11 run (conversion failed)
Massa 1 run (conversion failed)
Truswell 1 run (pass to Warnick)
rushes-yards 32-161 22-138
passing 112 28
comp-att-int 7-18-2 4-8-0
punts avg. 3-40.6 4-21
fumbles lost 1 2
penalties-yards 6-60 9-70
RUSHING – IHS, Schembri 6-7, Jones 10-99, Campbell-Moss 6-32. WHS, Truswell 9-3, Forvilly 14-55, Warnick 5-36, Massa 13-67
PASSING -IHS, Schembri 8-28. WHS, Truswell, 18-98, Forvilly, 1-14.
RECEIVING – IHS, Veley 3-12, Collins 2-34. WHS, Forvilly 5-43, Warnick 1-14, Lane 2-26.
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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village has played in two consecutive state championship basketball games, winning once, but entering this season the Highlanders have just one player with any varsity experience.