Winterboro was unable to stop the Sweet Water rushing attack. (Daily Home)
ALPINE — Sweet Water head coach Stacey Luker said hard work and his team’s love of playing football in November is what has made his team so successful.
That recipe for success proved to be true as the defending Class 1A champions defeated Winterboro 49-0 in second round of the AHSAA playoffs.
“Advancing past the second round is good for our kids,” Luker said. “I thought Winterboro played tough and I think it became a numbers game down the stretch tonight. I think we had a few more numbers. I am proud of our kids. Every win is a big win — especially in the playoffs.”
After a scoreless first quarter the defending Class 1A champions scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 28-0 lead into halftime. Michael Thompson scored all four touchdowns for the Bulldogs touchdowns in the first half.
Josh Taylor fumbled at midfield to set up Sweet Water’s first scoring drive. Thompson rushed for 47 of the 50 yards on the drive including a 28-yard run on a toss to sweep around right end. The senior running back capped off the drive with a 10-yard run for a touchdown. The point-after attempt by Taylor Wilson was good to make it 7-0 with 11:03 left in the second quarter.
Sweet Water forced Winterboro to a three and out on their next drive. The visiting Bulldogs took over at the Winterboro 35-yard line after the punt. On the first play of the drive Thompson broke out of the grasp of a host of Winterboro defenders then sprinted down the field 65 yards to pay dirt. The point after attempt was good to make it 14-0 with 9:10 left in the second quarter.
Winterboro tried to get things going on their next possession. The Sweet Water defense was stifling the entire game, but Taylor was able to break a few times for big gains.
On the first play of the drive Taylor was able to reverse field to the right for a 29-yard gain. The Bulldogs went backwards twice in a row on illegal procedure calls to make it first down and 20. Winterboro only gained one yard the next three plays and were forced to punt.
Sweet Water once again turned to their running game to drive down the field for a touchdown. The Bulldogs put together a seven-play 62-yard drive for a touchdown. The key play of the drive was a 25-yard run by Jarvis Lewis to the Winterboro 37-yard line.
Thompson scored a few plays later on 10-yard run. The point after attempt was good to make it 21-0 with 4:48 left in the second half.
“We came out on fire and playing well,” Winterboro head coach Adam Fossett said. “After the first quarter it was 0-0. Then we made a couple of mistakes. They were able to capitalize on it and take a 14-0 lead off our mistakes. We lost a fumble and missed a tackle in the backfield and the kid scores off of it. From there it was a downward spiral. To lose by 49 is not an indication on how good we are. We knew coming into the game we were going to have to play mistake-free football to beat this team. Let’s face it Sweet Water, is a good program. They traditionally have a strong program and they brought a good ball club down here. Coach Lucker does a great job coaching them up and having them ready and they do their thing and win a lot of games.”
Sweet Water went to the air in the final drive of the half. Brett Davis connected Lincoln Luker for 44 yards down to the 2-yard line. Thompson scored his fourth touchdown of the game from 3 yards out to make it 28-0.
“Michael is our bell cow,” Luker said. “Michael will be the first to credit our offensive line. Our offensive line has played physical. We think we are getting better up there. We just do what we do. We could maybe complete an occasional pass, but we have to run that football and try to play great defense. I thought we played good defense tonight. I’ll tell you, (Taylor) is a great football player. He was a step away all night long, but I was proud that we were able to get the shout out. That was big for us.”
Thompson put the game away in the fourth after a Winterboro fumble. Thompson took the direct snap then took off a 63-yard touchdown run to make it 35-0 with 10:20 left in the game. Gamble Scored to make it 42-0. Sweet Water added a late score in the fourth to make it 49-0.
The lost ends a historic season for Winterboro. The Bulldogs’ senior corps led Winterboro to a 10-2 season and their first region title since 1997.
“They have done a good job doing what we ask them to do all season,” Fossett said. “They have gone above and beyond. They have done a great job representing this school and this community. Winning a region title and going 10-2 is something that nobody can take away from them. They have nothing to hang their head about and they have everything in the world to be proud about. The seniors have left a great legacy here. They won 29 or 30 ball games here in four years. We will move on and work on getting better.”
Read more:The Daily Home - Sweet Water runs over Winterboro