By DOUG EADS
Things didn’t look very promising for the Southwestern Warriors on Friday night in a district championship game at Whitley County, however Jason Foley’s club refused to go away and fold its tents.
Tanner Wright scored on a pair of touchdown runs in the second half, and thanks to 15 unanswered points after the intermission, Southwestern roared all the way back from the dead, erasing a 15-6 halftime deficit to the Colonels to claim a district championship with a hard-fought, 21-15 win at Whitley County.
Yes, the Warriors continued their roll — albeit after a slow start — by coming back to win their fifth game in a row.
And, it was a total team effort.
Chase Doan got the Warriors on the scoreboard thanks to his 3-yard TD run in first period, giving Southwestern a quick, 7-0 lead.
However, behind the running of Woody Lawson and the play at quarterback by Seth Mills, it was Whitley County mounting a comeback in the opening half of play.
Lawson rushed for 100 yards in the first half setting up the Colonels in great position on the field on multiple occasions.
Mills hit Zach Saylor for a 9-yard TD pass on the first play of the second period knotting up the score at 7-7, and Saylor also added a two yard run for another score later in the frame, while adding a two-point conversion run as well.
Thanks to that flurry, the Colonels led this one over the Warriors at 15-6 at the intermission.
Not to worry though, Southwestern wasn’t going away.
Running back Tanner Wright scored on a 4-yard run in the third period, and he would tack on another 4-yard jaunt in the final frame, and that TD would give Southwestern the lead for good.
Austin Barnes added a two-point conversion run after Wright’s fourth quarter score, and Southwestern would take a 21-15 lead with just under four minutes left in the contest.
At that point, the game was in Southwestern’s ‘D’s’ hands, and that ‘D’ came up clutch at crunch time.
Defensive tackle Mason Heath had several tackles for loss, while Barnes, Kenny Robinson, and company stiffened and held the Colonels rushing attack in check coming down the home stretch.
Lawson finished with a game-high 135 yards on 23 attempts, but only 35 of those yards came in the second half — a half that saw Southwestern dominate on both sides of the football.
With the win, Southwestern claims a district championship and moves onto the third round of the Class 5 A playoffs.
But, the road certainly gets tougher this week.
The Warriors — 7-5 on the season — will travel to Lexington on Friday night to face a perfect, 12-0 Frederick Douglass team that has scored 533 points on the season, averaging 44 .4 points per contest.
Kickoff for that game is set for 7:30 p.m.