By Barry Barnett/For Daily Mountain Eagle
Winston County’s bid to earn the fourth and final playoff spot in Class 2A Region 7 fell just short last Friday (Oct. 27) in Double Springs, as the Yellow Jackets were narrowly defeated by the visiting West End Patriots, 26-19.
The Jackets spotted West End a 19-0 lead before mounting a furious comeback attempt that kept the outcome in doubt until the final moments.
The Patriots (3-6, 2-4) took the opening kickoff and drove 55 yards for a score, with Payne Stancil getting the touchdown on a 17-yard scamper on the fifth play of the drive.
Stancil proved to be a thorn in Winston County’s side all night. The senior quarterback was 9 of 18 passing for 185 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 39 more yards and two TDs, and kicked two extra points. He also handled all the kickoff and punting duties and made an interception while playing defensive back that ended the final Yellow Jacket drive of the game.
West End increased its lead to 19-0 after Stancil’s touchdown pass to Jeremiah Roberson with 11:52 remaining in the first half and Levi Armstrong’s 15-yard run three minutes later.
Winston County (2-7, 2-4) scored just two plays later, as Austin Owens reversed his field on a sweep left and darted 72 yards for the first Yellow Jacket touchdown. The score was 19-7 at the half.
Neither team was able to score in the third period, but Winston County made things interesting in the final stanza.
After converting a fourth and five from the West End 17 on a pass from Ethan Moore to Isaiah Mercer, the Yellow Jackets scored on a 5-yard Justin Richie run with 9:04 remaining to narrow the gap to 19-13. The defense then held, but Stancil’s punt backed Winston County up to its 6-yard line. Richie ran once for four yards and then exploded on his next carry for 90 yards for the tying touchdown with 6:24 to play.
The Jacket defense forced fourth down twice on the next Patriot drive but could not contain the West End quarterback either time, as Stancil converted fourth and 2 from the 27 and then scrambled 15 yards for the winning touchdown on a fourth and 3 with 1:11 remaining.
Winston County was able to get off two passes on its final possession, but the second one resulted in Stancil’s interception and allowed West End to run out the clock.
West End closes out its season this week at home against Ashville. Winston County will finish its season next week at Addison.