E.A. Sports Today

Wellborn rallies

Panthers scored nine points in the final 1:30 to take another close one from Saks

Pat Harris (26) scored Wellborn's game-winning touchdown in the final minute Friday.  On the cover, Jordan Montgomery (6) breaks through the Saks defense. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Pat Harris (26) scored Wellborn’s game-winning touchdown in the final minute Friday. On the cover, Jordan Montgomery (6) breaks through the Saks defense. (Photos by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

By Jason Katz
For East Alabama Sports Today

The Wellborn Panthers were feeling anything but Deja vu after the first half of Friday night’s game against Saks. They were on the road, trailing by four, and it was looking as if a repeat of last year’s victory was not in the cards.

That wouldn’t stop quarterback Austin McQueen and Jordan Montgomery from coming alive in the second half and leading the Panthers to another exciting rivalry win over the Wildcats, this time 26-21.

Both McQueen and Montgomery shined as they scored on the ground and through the air in two key drives for the Panthers in the second half.

In the third quarter, Montgomery was the star back in a five-minute, 57-yard drive that ended on a 6-yard touchdown run that gave Wellborn the lead heading into the fourth.

Then after Saks rallied to take a quick 21-17 lead, McQueen went 4-for-5 for 71 yards and hit Patrick Harris with 21 seconds left for the game-winning touchdown.

“I tell you what, these boys played their guts out tonight,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “These kids just got after it tonight and would not be denied.

“Listen, Saks is a great team and is coached very well and they could have easily won this game, but we just found a way tonight, and you have to give our guys credit for that.”

McQueen was intercepted twice in the first half and wasn’t helped by the measly 74 net yards the Panthers mustered on offense. But they rallied for 212 yards in the second half – more than the 200 yards Saks managed against their defense for the game.

“I was pretty low after throwing those two interceptions in the first half,” McQueen said. “But my team picked me up, and I was ready for that last game-winning drive.

“I put a lot of trust in my offensive line tonight, and it really paid off. They allowed me to do what I needed to do to get us this win.”

Montgomery’s skills played a vital part in last year’s win and did the same on Friday. He led the Panthers with 83 yards rushing and on multiple occasions was the driving force that wore down Saks’ defense and allowed Wellborn to make it count when it needed a play.

“He’s a warrior,” Smith said on Montgomery.

For Saks, the night was full of mistakes that in the end could not be taken back. A prime example of this came with 1:38 left in the game with the Wildcats on their 15, inches to go for a first down and protecting a 21-17 lead.

After confusion for quarterback Dee Bell, the Wildcats were hit with a delay of game penalty. Then, Bell ran into the end zone for a safety, allowing Wellborn to set up for the game-winning drive.

“This was a great rivalry win for our team tonight,” Smith said. “We have to prepare for our region now. That is the most important step for the success of our season right now.”

The Panthers travel to play undefeated Pleasant Valley in their region opener. Saks meets Jacksonville.

WELLBORN 26, SAKS 21
Wellborn 0 10 7 9 — 26
Saks 7 7 0 7 — 21

S – Tra Hughley pass 35 from Dee Bell (PAT kick), 9:18 1Q
W – Safety, Harley Burgess falls on high snap in end zone, 10:30 2Q
W – Javian Thomas 6 run (PAT conversion), 6:16 2Q
S – Rodney Reddick 18 run (PAT kick), 3:30 2Q
W – Jordan Montgomery 6 run (PAT kick), 2:19 3Q
S – Rodney Reddick 3 run (PAT kick), 10:42 4Q
W – Safety, Dee Bell runs into end zone, 1:25 4Q
W – Patrick Harris pass 6 from Austin McQueen (PAT kick), 0:21 4Q

The Saks defense converge on Kedrick Harris (34) to ensure the Wellborn ballcarrier doesn't go anywhere when he regains his feet.

The Saks defense converge on Kedrick Harris (34) to ensure the Wellborn ballcarrier doesn’t go anywhere when he regains his feet.



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