BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School football squad traveled to Cardinal Newman High School on Friday, Oct. 10 and outlasted the Crusaders 54-34 before a capacity crowd.
The Crusaders seemed to have all the right moves as they held on to a 28-21 halftime lead on their homecoming night. However, the Wolverines put those hopes to an abrupt end with an explosive second half of offense that the Crusaders could not contain. Wellington outscored the Crusaders 33-6 in the second half.
WHS quarterback Shannon Patrick threw for a career high of 397 yards and six touchdowns to spoil the Crusader homecoming.
“My offensive line had a good game. They gave me a lot of time,” said Patrick, who has thrown for 1,696 yards and 27 touchdowns on the season with just two interceptions.
Wellington clawed back in its come-from-behind second-half assault when receiver Ahmmon Richards caught a 74-yard touchdown pass from Patrick, but Alex Ng’s kick failed and the Wolverines trailed by one, 28-27.
The Wolverines took the lead with a Patrick 1-yard sneak. A Patrick pass to receiver Austin Gilman gave Wellington a 2-point conversion and a 35-28 advantage.
The Crusaders responded with their only score of the second half, but the kick after was blocked, with Wellington holding a tight 35-34 lead.
Wellington’s Jean Rene returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the Cardinal Newman 21-yard line. The Wolverines extended their lead with a Mike Howard score from 15 yards out. The extra point effort failed, and Wellington held a 41-34 lead. Rene tallied two more scores from the air from Patrick; one from 15 yards out and the other for 75 yards to seal the 54-34 victory.
“Once the defense started playing like they should have, things started falling into place, and the offense started clicking,” Wellington coach Thomas Abel said. “They’re a good football team, and it was an honor to play them,” he added about Cardinal Newman.
Richards is credited with six receptions for 219 yards and three scores. Rene had two catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Gilman, Howard and running back Kyle Branch combined for 111 yards through the air and a score. Howard, Rene and Branch also combined for 141 yards on the ground. Defensively, Richards is credited with an interception, and defensive end Tyler Somers recorded a sack.
Wellington improved its record to 6-1 (1-0 in District 9-8A) and was set to host Seminole Ridge High School in a key district game on Thursday, Oct. 16.
ABOVE: Wellington receiver Ahmmon Richards runs for one of his three touchdowns.