The Wellington High School football team hosted state-ranked William T. Dwyer High School in a non-district contest on Friday, Oct. 5. Wellington (4-3, 1-1) struggled after the first quarter to hang with the Panthers and fell 55-7.
Dwyer was able to keep the Wolverines under 200 yards in total offense. “We were short six starters, and that’s not an excuse, but maybe they could have made some plays for us,” Wellington head coach Tom Abel said. “We’re just going to keep plugging away and stay positive. We’re 4-3 and going to try to finish strong.”
Things did not go well for Wellington early on the team’s first possession. Facing a fourth-and-three, they elected to try to convert from their own 36-yard line and failed to move the chains, which gave the Panthers workable field position. The Wolverine defense forced Dwyer into an identical situation, but the Panthers converted in lieu of kicking a field goal. The decision later paid off for Dwyer, as they reached the end zone for the game’s first score to lead 7-0.
Wellington’s offense went to work on what would be their best drive of the game. The Wolverines consumed nearly seven minutes off the clock driving inside the Dwyer 35-yard line. Quarterback Austin Wallace connected with receiver Dane Stratton from 32 yards out for the equalizing score. With the game tied at 7-7, it appeared as if the game would be close. Wellington drove to midfield, but a buckled-down Panther defense forced a Wellington punt.
Dwyer eventually added three more touchdowns before the half to take a 27-7 lead. The Wolverines drove to the Dwyer 10-yard line, but a touchdown pass from Wallace to Mark Antony Richards was ruled out of bounds.
Wellington could not get a consistent performance sustained on the field during the second half. The Panthers scored on a 70-yard run to push them into a 34-7 lead. A bobbled snap by the Wolverine offense deep in their own territory was returned for a score by the Dwyer defense to lift them to a 41-7 lead.
The Wolverine special teams could not contain the Dwyer punt returner as he raced 70 yards for the touchdown, after fumbling the ball on the catch, to go up 48-7 in the fourth quarter. Dwyer added one more late score to cap the 55-7 win.
Wellington relied on Wallace for most of the game, until he left the contest with an injury. They then rotated two of the younger quarterbacks, Black Kendall and Matt Shannon. “We’re rotating them to give them the experience,” Abel said. “Whoever has the higher hand in practice, gets to start, but Austin has really stepped up.”
Wellington travels to Jupiter High School on Friday, Oct. 12 to continue district play. The game is a must-win for both teams to salvage any post-season chance. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.