Photo: Westbrook Christian’s John Ross Morgan (23) brings down Glencoe’s Easton Foreman during the Yellow Jackets’ 28-17 victory last Friday (Sept. 1) in Rainbow City. (Photo by Gary Wells)
By Chris McCarthy
When Glencoe High’s first two possessions of the second half last Friday (Sept. 1) resulted in a fumble that led to a Westbrook Christian touchdown followed by a failed fourth down conversion attempt, it seemed that the Yellow Jackets might very well endure a long bus ride from Westminster Drive to Lonesome Bend Road.
The visitors were down but definitely not out, however, as Glencoe rallied from an 11-point deficit to post a 28-17 victory in Rainbow City.
The Yellow Jackets (2-0) scored 22 unanswered points after Kaleb Pentecost recovered a Westbrook fumble midway through the third quarter. While the Glencoe offense scored three touchdowns over the final 16 minutes, the Jacket defense forced a punt, held on a fourth down conversion attempt and came up with an interception.
“I thought our kids handled some adversity tonight,” said Glencoe head coach Rusty Davis. “We didn’t have the first half that we wanted and we could have hung our heads when we fumbled right off the bat [in the second half], but our kids battled and fought. We talked at halftime about being the more physical team, and I think we were. I told them that we’d be okay if we played our game. We didn’t panic, and I think that paid off.”
In his second career start at quarterback, Glencoe senior Jacob Amberson was 14-for-21 in passing for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He added 40 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Noah Huff had six receptions for 62 yards, while Sam Kimbrell caught four passes for 68 yards.
Bradley Scott finished with 13 tackles, followed by Carson McCreless with eight, Pentecost and Andrew Massaro with seven each and Ethan Foreman with five.
Westbrook (0-1) had the momentum with touchdowns late in the first half and early in the second. Court Coley’s 2-yard scoring run just before halftime pout the hosts ahead 10-6. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, the Warriors recovered a fumble at the Yellow Jacket 13-yard line. Four plays later, Coley against ran it in from two yards out at 9:44. With Will Dickson’s PAT, Glencoe found itself in an 11-point hole.
The visitors’ next possession fizzled out at the Westbrook 25 when Glencoe came up short on fourth down, providing the Warriors with another scoring chance.
That opportunity never materialized, as Westbrook fumbled away the ball on first down. Four plays later, Cade Alred scored on a 13-yard run, and Amberson’s two-point conversion pass to Huff trimmed the deficit to 17-14.
An 18-yard pass completion on a third and down and 15 from Jackson Cox to P.J. Wells went for naught when the hosts eventually were forced to punt. Glencoe then used two big pass plays – a 17-yarder to Kimbrell and a 46-yard strike to Easton Foreman – to get to the Warrior 1. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Alred scored and Katie Smith pushed through the PAT to make it 21-17 in favor of the Yellow Jackets.
“We lost our minds a little early on and didn’t play the way we’re supposed to play,” said Davis. “But I’ve said from the start that we’ve a got a lot of intangibles with this group. The more we play, the better we’re going to be.”
Westbrook then put together a 10-play drive that made it to the Glencoe 25, but the Warriors turned the ball over on downs with 7:14 left in the game.
A 19-yard Amberson-to-Huff pass gave the Yellow Jackets some breathing room, and Amberson’ 15-yard scramble put the visitors deep inside Warrior territory. Glencoe capped off its third straight scoring drive with Amberson’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Kinbrell. With Smith’s extra point, the Yellow Jackets enjoyed a 28-17 advantage with 3:26 remaining.
Westbrook’s final drive ended with Huff’s interception at the Glencoe 8, and three straight runs by Alred ran out the clock.
Westbrook head coach Brian Mintz noted that the loss of junior halfback Hunter Grimes early in the first quarter limited the Warriors’ playbook.
“That took us out of some things offensively, but you’ve got to be able to change as the game progresses. Glencoe played hard and did exactly what they needed to do. But our kids played with a lot of heart, and if these guys are the kind of guys I think they are, they’re going to move forward from this point and have a good year.”
The Warriors also lost the turnover battle with three to Glencoe’s two.
“I’ve told the kids repeatedly that whether it’s pee-wee or an NFL game, turnovers affect the outcome more than any other statistic, and [turnovers] did not work out in our favor tonight,” said Mintz.
Cox completed 12 of 16 passes for 172 yards. Wells caught seven passes for 61 yards, while Caeden Godfrey had three receptions for 70 yards.
Jai’Shawn Cattling paced the Warrior ground game with 45 yards on eight carries, while Coley added 39 yards on 10 attempts.
Defensively, Coley and John Ross Morgan had 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Westbrook drew first blood on Dickson’s 37-yard field goal with just under two minutes left in the first period.
Glencoe responded with a 10-play, 69-yard possession that was capped by Amberson’s 3-yard scoring pass to Alred at the 8:02 mark of the second quarter. The PAT failed, putting the Yellow Jackets up 6-3.
The teams traded turnovers – Glencoe’s Tyler Palomares recovered a fumble and Westbrook’s Alex Burnett intercepted a pass – but neither miscue led to points. Westbrook regained the lead when Coley scored with a 0.5 on the first half clock, sending the hosts into the locker room ahead 10-6.
“I give credit to Westbrook; they had a great game plan and they came after us,” said Davis. “I knew that we’d have our hands full. This was our second win on the road and we still have five more [games] at home, so I like where we’re at right now. We’ve got Piedmont next up, so we’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready.”
Both teams start region play this Friday (Sept. 8). Glencoe travels to Piedmont, while Westbrook hosts Sand Rock.