WILMINGTON — Garrett Guess and Trey Robinette hooked up on three touchdown passes and Miami Trace held off Wilmington in a wild finish 28-22 Friday night at Alumni Field.
Guess caught TD passes of 8, 9 and 5 yards from Guess and the Panthers defense scored a touchdown in the final quarter to spoil Wilmington’s home opener.
The Panthers, 1-1 on the year, rallied from 7-0 and 14-7 to take a 21-14 lead in the third quarter. But Wilmington responded on Thad Stuckey’s 25-yard scoring run. The point after failed and Miami Trace was clinging to a 21-20 lead.
WHS held Trace on downs on the next series. However the first play from scrimmage for the Hurricane from the 35 resulted in a bad snap. The ball rolled in to the end zone where it was recovered by the Panthers defense. With 6:59 remaining, Trace led 28-20.
The teams traded turnovers — WHS tossed an interception at the goal line then Trace fumbled right back to WHS — and the Hurricane had one last chance. WHS failed on a third down play but Trace was whistled for a personal foul. With the penalty being just half the distance to the goal — 12 yards — WHS had to go for it on fourth down and came up well short. Trace took a safety on the ensuing drive and won the game.
Many at the game were puzzled by the personal foul penalty not being an automatic first down, including WHS head coach Ryan Evans.
“That was our thoughts but according to the officials it’s just 15 yards,” he said.
Wilmington scored on its first drive, a Stuckey 9-yard jaunt. Dylan Groves extra point made it 7-0.
The Hurricane defense played well early but in the second quarter penalties began to become a problem for WHS. With a strong run mixed in by Trace, the Panthers tied the game. Trey Robinette passed 9 yards to Garrett Guess with 7:23 to go until half.
After a strong start, the Wilmington offense began to sputter but regained their footing late in the half. After several strong runs by Stuckey, it was Adrien Price who hooked up with Blaize Johnson for a 21 yard scoring pass. With 60 seconds left in the second quarter, Groves extra point made it 14-7 WHS.
The Hurricane infraction woes continued on the kickoff (15 yards unsportsmanlike) then five plays later the hammer fell. After an apparent Miami Trace fumble at the 20 recovered by Hurricane defender Malachi Cumberland, Wilmington was hit with three 15-yard penalties to not only wipe out the turnover but put Trace at the 3.
The penalties called all on the same play were helmet infraction, an unsportsmanlike conduct and a personal foul. The final mark-off of the penalties was just 17 yards because none were full distance given the location on the field … from the 20 to the 10, from 10 to the 5, from the 5 to the 3.
Guess and Robinette hooked up again with 11 seconds left in the half to send the teams to the lockerroom tied at 14.
Trace went up 21-14 late in the third but WHS started an 11-play, 74-yard scoring drive in the third, capped by Stuckey’s 25 yard run at 9:33 of the fourth that made it 21-20. Josh Snell had an inspiring five-yard, second-effort run during the drive.
Stuckey had a monster ground game, running 32 times for 204 yards. Caydn Denniston had a nifty 61-yard run and finished with 73 yards on the ground. In all, Wilmington had 301 yards on 48 rushes. Trace finished with 203 total yards.
Key defensive plays were made by Jelani Hunter, Malachi Cumberland, Chase Pickard and Darrick Perdue.
In the end, Wilmington was penalized 8 times for 82 yards but it could have been 8 times for 110 yards had the three 15-yard penalties on the same play been fully marked off. Six of the penalties were 15-yard penalties.
“Bad football, not championship level football,” Evans said. “We need to finish. I am disappointed and embarrassed by our unwillingness to play with class. Building a program is tough but we will get it through (to) our players sooner than later.”
Aug 26, 2022
Miami Trace 28, Wilmington 22
W: Thad Stuckey 9 run (Dylan Groves PAT) 9:12
MT: Garrett Guess 8 pass from Trey Robinette (Zach Warnock PAT) 7:30
W: Blaize Johnson 21 pass from Aiden Price (Dylan Groves PAT) 1:00
MT: Garrett Guess 9 pass from Trey Robinette (Zach Warnock PAT) 0:11
MT: Garrett Guess 8 pass from Trey Robinette (Zach Warnock PAT) 3:48
W: Thad Stuckey 25 run (PAT Failed) 9:33
MT: Panthers recovered bad snap in end zone (Zach Warnock PAT) 6:59
W: Safety, punt runs out of end zone 0:01
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email [email protected] or on Twitter @wnjsports