BEREA – Southwestern came into their meeting with Madison Central with a lot of adversity on their side.
First, the Warriors were originally scheduled to play on Friday, but Hurricane Harvey forced the game to be moved to Saturday evening.
To top things off, Larry French had to make a pre-game switch at quarterback after Joe Floyd came down with an illness.
Despite all the setbacks, Southwestern was able get past the Madison Central Indians by a score of 24-15 in the Doc Sipple Bowl at Madison Southern High School. With the nine-point victory, French and company moved to a perfect 3-0 on the season for the first time since 2004.
French, who in his fourth season as the head coach of the Warriors, was proud of his team for keeping their focus on the game and executing the game plan to a T.
“We kept our guys focused and did the things that we needed to do Wednesday through Friday,” told French. “We got our guys up early this morning and got them concentrated on what they were supposed to do. That was a gut-check win right there – our guys played hard. We got down in there in the third quarter, but we bounced right back. They were having a hard time stopping us, we stopped ourselves with penalties – we had way too many penalties in this game. We’ve just got to keep on improving.”
With Floyd out of the lineup, the Warriors turned to running back Drew Sawyers to play the quarterback position. Southwestern looked a little out of sorts on their inaugural drive, as there were a couple of bad snaps, which in turn, forced the Warriors to punt the ball away.
The Warriors looked much, much better on their following drive. Madison Central fell for the fake on the play-action play, allowing Sawyers to find a wide-open Blake Lanham in the end zone for an 18-yard pass. Patric Edwards’ two-point conversion run allowed Southwestern to run out to an 8-0 advantage with 3:10 remaining in the opening period.
Madison Central would be forced to punt on their ensuing drive, handing the ball right back to the Warriors. Southwestern marched right down the field to begin the drive, but a slew of penalties killed their momentum, meaning they would have to settle for a field goal. Kicker Sawyer Cress drilled the 36-yard kick to put the Warriors ahead, 11-0, with 7:08 left to play in the second quarter.
On the following kickoff, the Indians would cross the 50-yard line and head into Warrior territory. Madison Central took full advantage of the quality field position, as quarterback Derrick Miller would eventually across the goal line for a touchdown. Rather than going for the one-point kick, Miller hit Antwaun Warford for a successful two-point try, cutting the Warrior lead to 11-8 with 4:50 remaining until halftime.
Madison Central would score again midway through the third quarter, as Ethan Hahn got past the Warrior defense for a 30-yard touchdown run. With a made extra point, the Indians grabbed a 15-11 lead with 7:21 left to play in the third period.
The Warriors battled back late in the third stanza with a score of their own. Edwards capped off a long drive with a five-yard touchdown run with 3:57 remaining. Cress’ PAT kick gave Southwestern an 18-15 advantage.
Southwestern tallied another score in the fourth quarter, which was a drive that saw the Warriors make some big plays on several third down situations. Sawyers followed his offensive line all the way down the field on the drive before scoring an 11-yard touchdown run. Despite a missed extra point, the Warriors led, 24-15, with 8:20 remaining.
The Warriors had a few more opportunities to score late in the game, as the defense forced Madison Central into a pair of a fumble recoveries by Kody Price and Josh Williams. Southwestern could not capitalize on those opportunities, but they still held on to win the contest by a nine-point margin.
On the night, the Warriors racked up 255 rushing yards and 141 passing yards in route to 396 total yards of offense. Southwestern’s offense, however, was slowed down by being penalized nine times for 93 yards.
Sawyers, in his first start ever at the quarterback position, went 10 of 16 through the air for 115 yards and a touchdown. The junior also carried the ball 13 times for 81 yards and a lone score.
The veteran high school football coach was excited to see Sawyers play as well as he did at QB1.
“Drew stepped in and did a heck of a job at quarterback,” French praised. “I think he played tremendous out there. He’s not very big, but he plays big.”
Edwards, who was named the game’s most valuable player, had 23 carries for 124 yards and a lone score. The senior tailback also had a pair of catches for 17 yards.
Receiving wise, Cameron Miller tallied a team-high 53 yards on two catches. Lanham hauled in four receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown.
JP Vaught did a little bit of everything for the Warriors in the victory. Vaught threw one pass for 26 yards, ran the ball twice for 30 yards, and caught two passes for another 19 yards.
Southwestern’s defense kept the highly-touted Madison Central offense under 200 yards on the night, while forcing them into three turnovers (one interception and two fumbles).
For the Warriors, it was a great effort from both sides of the football that helped catapult the team to victory.
“I thought our offensive line gave us a corner,” explained French. “I thought our backs were blocking well. Patric, he’s hurting a little bit, but he played well. Coach (William) Blair did a good job with the defense – to hold this team to 15 points is pretty good. Steven (French) got the offense running some things that we could do, so that’s a big plus.”
With the win over Madison Central, Southwestern moved to 3-0 on the year. It is the first time the Warriors have started 3-0 in a season since 2004, when they opened the year with victories over Warren Central, Russell County, and East Jessamine.
Southwestern will look to make it four wins in a row this Friday, when they will host Henry Clay at the Reservation. Kickoff for Friday night’s game is slated for 7:30 p.m.
SOUTHWESTERN 24, MADISON CENTRAL 15
SW – 8 3 7 6 – 24
MC – 0 8 7 0 – 15
SCORING SUMMARY –
3:10 – SW – Sawyers to Lanham 18-yard pass (Edwards run)
7:08 – SW – Cress 36-yard field goal
4:50 – MC – Miller 2-yard run (Miller to Warford pass)
7:21 – MC – Hahn 30-yard run (Hatcher PAT)
3:57 – SW – Edwards 5-yard run (Cress PAT)
8:20 – SW – Sawyers 11-yard run (Cress PAT)
SW – Sawyers 10/16 115 TD, Vaught 1/1 26
MC – Miller 9/18 60 INT
SW – Edwards 23 – 124 TD, Sawyers 13 – 81 TD, Vaught 2 – 30, Barnes 3 – 14, Miller 1 – 6
MC – Hulberg 11 – 43, Hahn 5 – 31 TD, Warford 3 – 36, Chenault 5 – 23, Miller 4 – 0 TD
SW – Miller 2 – 53, Lanham 4 – 47 TD, Vaught 2 – 19, Edwards 2 – 17, Bach 1 – 6
MC – Hulberg 2 – 24, Snapp 2 – 10, Hahn 1 – 9, Harris 1 – 7, Muntz 1 – 6, Dillon 1 – 4, Warford 1 – 0