Late Wellington Rally Hands Seminole Ridge First Loss 22-21

Wellington’s Mark Antony Richards tackles Seminole Ridge quarterback Kaimyn Castilla.

The Wellington High School football squad put together a late rally behind running back Mark Antony Richards to hand visiting Seminole Ridge High School its first loss of the season 22-21 on Friday, Sept. 28.

Richards accounted for all three of the Wolverine touchdowns in the key District 9-8A contest. Wellington (4-2, 1-1) left the field at halftime down 21-8.

The teams exchanged early turnovers at the beginning of the game, but the Hawks (4-1, 1-1) took advantage of Wellington’s second fumble. Hawk linebacker Peter Sinoyiannis scooped up the ball and returned it 55 yards for the game’s first score.

Seminole Ridge led 7-0 early in the first quarter. The Wolverine offense could not get things going. Seminole Ridge used 11 plays to cap a 74-yard drive when running back Corey Polk drove in the Hawks’ second touchdown to go up 14-0. The drive consumed more than five minutes off the clock.

Wellington’s offense began to click, driving 44 yards into Hawk real estate, but the drive was negated by an interception at the Seminole Ridge goal line. The Wellington defense tightened up to slow the Hawks down and grabbed another chance to close the margin. Quarterback Austin Wallace orchestrated a 36-yard drive that put Richards in the end zone on a one-yard run for the first of his three touchdowns. The Wolverines decided on a two-point conversion attempt, and Wallace connected with Lakevious Simmons. Wellington then trailed 14-8 with 33 seconds remaining to play in the half.

Wellington attempted an onside kick but could not control the ball as it traveled out of bounds. The Hawks only needed one play to extend their lead. Polk ran down the right side 50 yards for the touchdown to lift Seminole Ridge up 21-8 at the half.

Wellington needed two things to happen in the second half: defensively keep the Hawks out of the end zone and rally offensively. They accomplished both. The Hawks were unable to add to their score, and the Wellington offense put together two late scoring drives. “They regrouped and battled back; I’m very proud of them,” Wellington head coach Tom Abel said.

With less than five minutes to play in the game, Wallace hit Richards on a 10-yard fade for the Wolverines’ second score. Morgan Suarez put up the point after to close the gap to 21-15.

The Wolverines went back to the onside kick attempt, this time recovering the ball to gain back-to-back possessions. The Wolverines only had half the field to travel, from the 50-yard line. Wallace had to come out of the game due to an injury, and Richards was called upon to run Wellington’s “wildcat” offense.

Richards took the Wellington offense to the Hawk 2-yard line. With time ticking down inside two seconds, Richards broke a tackle to the right and ran into the end zone for the score as time expired.

With the game tied at 21-21, Suarez was forced to take the extra point from the 25-yard line after a sideline violation penalty. He split the uprights to give Wellington the 22-21 win in a dramatic finish.

“Morgan was on fire all week during practice,” Abel said. “He looked at me and said, ‘Coach, I got this.’”

The Wellington defense limited the Hawk offense to 108 yards in the second half and kept them out of the end zone.

With back-to-back wins for the Wolverines, they will look to carry that momentum into Friday night’s non-district matchup hosting William T. Dwyer High School. Seminole Ridge will look to rebound as they travel to Palm Beach Lakes High School in a non-district contest. Both games are at 6 p.m.