BY GENE NARDI
On Friday, Sept. 25, the Wellington High School football team hosted perennial state powerhouse Fort Pierce Central High School and fell short to the Cobras 41-24. The damp conditions did not deter football fans from coming out to the game.
No. 7 Wellington took advantage of the first possession and capped a 70-yard, six-play drive with a 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Blake Dever to receiver Ahmmon Richards. Logan Robinson’s kick gave the Wolverines (3-2, 1-0) an early 7-0 lead. The Cobras struck back but missed their extra point, and Wellington maintained a tight 7-6 lead.
With five minutes left in the first quarter, Dever connected with receiver Austin Gilman for a 30-yard gain into Cobra territory, but a fumble gave Fort Pierce the break it needed. The Cobras drove down the field easily and took at 12-7 lead. Both teams showed no fear, attempting to convert on fourth down situations, both converting on occasion.
Fort Pierce initiated another drive in the second quarter but was halted by a Sage Chen-Young interception, giving Wellington possession on its own 30-yard line. But another costly miscue proved catastrophic for the Wolverines. On Wellington’s first play, Dever threw to his right and into the hands of the Cobra cornerback. The interception was returned 42 yards for a score. A two-point conversion gave the Cobras a 20-7 second-quarter lead.
Defensive end Patrick Mark came up big for the Wellington defense with a fourth-and-short sack on Wellington’s 20-yard line, giving the Wolverines possession. Dever led his offense down to the Fort Pierce 20, but fumbled a mishandled snap, turning the ball over to Fort Pierce.
Wellington’s defense again held Fort Pierce out of the end zone, and managed to end the first half on a 37-yard Robinson field goal to close the margin to 20-10.
The Cobras were much bigger up front, and it seemed to wear the Wolverines down, until they sparked a fourth-quarter rally. Down 34-10, Gilman intercepted a Cobra pass and returned it for 41 yards, setting up Wellington’s next score. Dever found Richards for his second touchdown of the game, this time for 9 yards, to close the gap to 34-18.
The Cobras would not falter, though, answering with a score to extend the lead to 41-18. Wellington would continue to claw back. Quarterback Ben Schmickle powered in for a 1-yard score to keep Wellington alive at 41-24, but time was running out. Wellington would deny another score by the Cobras but failed to capitalize on reaching the red zone twice more, coming up empty. Miscues and turnovers dampened the Wolverines chances, like the rain that fell to the field all night.
“We have to execute better,” Wellington coach Tom Abel said. “We need to have guys in the right area to stop the run.”
Dever completed 20 of 35 passes for 258 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Richards had nine receptions for 123 yards and two scores. Gilman tallied seven catches for 92 yards and had an interception.
The Wolverines will travel to play district rival Seminole Ridge High School on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.
ABOVE: Receiver Ahmmon Richards makes a big gain after a catch for the Wolverines.