The names and faces change, but one things remains the same in the Whitesboro-Watertown football rivalry the Warriors continue to have the Cyclones number.
Coming into Friday nights battle with Whitesboro unbeaten and ranked eighth in the state in Class A, Watertown thought it might finally have the answer to Whitesboros success. But the Cyclones ran into the same problem stopping the Whitesboro running game, and the Warriors gouged WHS for 396 rushing yards en route to a 38-28 victory.
Senior Matt Felitto rushed 28 times for 196 yards and two touchdowns as Whitesboro (3-1 overall, 2-0 conference) raced to a 20-point lead, then held off a late WHS rally that saw Shyheim Gadson return two fourth-quarter kickoffs for scores.
Physically they are a lot bigger than us, said WHS coach Vince Williams. But we also missed a lot of tackles, especially in the backfield where they turned losses into gains.
And while Whitesboro dominated on the ground, the Warriors defense limited Class A rushing leader Diamond Williams to 64 yards on 19 carries, and WHS to a net 85 rushing yards on 28 tries.
I thought my kids did a nice job of not allowing Williams to break off any long runs, said Tom Schoen. This was a nice bounce-back effort tonight after a poor performance last week (40-24 loss to Nottingham).
Whitesboro won despite fumbling the ball away six times. Watertown (3-1, 2-1) turned only one of those miscues into a score.
We did a nice job of stripping the ball from their backs, said coach Williams. But we just didnt make enough big plays on offense. One or two plays and thats a really close game.
Whitesboro set the tone early as quarterback Bodhi Forbes scored on a 27-yard run five plays into the game. Felitto ran in the conversion to make it 8-0.
A Ryan Bajjaly fumble recovery set up Watertowns first score, a Williams 3-yard run later in the quarter. But WHS failed to convert.
Two more Whitesboro first-half fumbles produced nothing for WHS. Felitto then ran untouched 26 yards for a score with just 58 seconds left before halftime to give the Warriors a 14-6 lead.
Our line did a tremendous job tonight, Felitto said. Almost every time I ran there was a nice hole.
Whitesboro tacked on another score when Nick Carzo scored on a 10-yard run and Felitto converted to make it 22-6 early in the third quarter.
A Williams 8-yard TD run got WHS within 22-12. And freshman Mitchell Netto recovered a Whitesboro fumble on the Warriors next possession. But the next play
conceivably changed the momentum for good.
Williams caught a pass from Mason Phillips over the middle and rumbled toward the Whitesboro goal line. He was about to score on a 70-yard play when Bajjaly was called for an illegal block in the back. WHS eventually got back to the Whitesboro 2, but Felitto intercepted Phillips on a fourth-down pass.
I thought that was just a terrible call, coach Williams said. We score there and its anybodys game.
Connor Critellis 7-yard run and a 2-point conversion made it 30-12 with just under 10-minutes to play. But Gadson scooped up the ensuing kickoff and dashed 75 yards to give the Cyclones a lift. A Williams conversion run cut the deficit to 30-20.
Carzo scored again on a 3-yard run at the 2:23 mark. But Gadson again found a seam on the kickoff and went 72 yards to the end zone. After converting to get within 10 points, WHS could not stop the Warriors and they ran out the clock.
I just tried to give my teammates a lift,Gadson said of his two big special teams plays. But we didnt do enough to stop them on defense, and our offense never got into a rhythm.
Coach Williams praised his teams 48-minute effort, and told them, theres a good chance well see them again, so be ready.