E.A. Sports Today

Wildcats come close

White Plains opens a 19-point lead, but momentum swings on a turnover and Oneonta scores two late TDs to win

By East Alabama Sports Today

ONEONTA – The White Plains Wildcats came oh-so-close to getting their first victory of the season and snapping a 16-game losing streak Friday night, but a turnover late in the game swung the momentum and Oneonta scored two touchdowns in the final four minutes to rip out their hearts, 36-33.

The Wildcats bounced back from some early adversity to build a 19-point third-quarter lead against one of the winningest programs in the state and appeared to be cruising towards an elusive victory that most assuredly would have brought one of the biggest bonfires linebacker Walker Surrett could ever build when they got home.

With seven minutes to go they were leading by 12 and driving down the clock. But then they lost a fumble on a third-down play with 3:17 left that Oneonta recovered and returned inside the 10. A few plays later the Redskins found the end zone to make it 33-28.

Oneonta held the Wildcats again and this time scored the go-ahead touchdown on a fourth-and-10 pass. Ryan Bannister directed White Plains’ final drive to the Oneonta 30, but the Wildcats couldn’t punch in the winning score.

“The big thing is the kids played their butts off, there’s no doubt about that,” White Plains coach Chris White said. “They executed the plan we had in place to perfection, but we turn the ball over on the opening kickoff, throw an interception in the first half and fumbled the ball with three minutes left when we’re going in to score.

“As hard as we played, you can’t turn the ball over. Other than that, our kids played hard. They never quit. That was as physical a White Plains team as I’ve seen.”

The Wildcats hadn’t won since beating Pleasant Valley 18-6 on Sept. 25, 2015. Friday’s loss was the second closest game in the 17-game losing streak; only the 21-19 setback to Sardis that started it was closer.

The 33 points they scored against the Redskins were the most the Wildcats scored in a game since hanging 47 on Crossville in 2014.

Pat Harris and Charlie Huey each scored two touchdowns and Surrett recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score that gave the Wildcats a 33-14 lead in the third quarter.

“I do really believe the better team lost the football team, there’s no doubt in my mind,” White said. “How many folks have said a White Plains football team as a 4A team has been in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game?

“They laid it on the line. You look in their eyes and you know it hurts them knowing the work they put in. In the past you could come into the locker room and don’t know it really hurt them. Their bodies ached after this one … Now, we have to figure out how to win, not to make mistakes.”

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