DALTON -- Football analysts and coaches like to talk about high-powered offenses, complex signals and the like. Ultimately, the game is pretty simple: If you control the line of scrimmage, you usually win.
Wahconah Regional did just that Friday. The Warriors had 312 yards of total offense and held visiting Lee to 59 yards as they shut out the Wildcats 24-0.
"When you’re getting beat up front, this was our fear coming in. [Lee is] down on numbers right now and our fear was that we would get worn out by a bigger team with a lot more numbers," said Lee coach Keith Thomson. "That’s what happened in the second half."
The Wildcats trailed 12-0 at halftime after running only 18 plays to Wahconah’s 30. But the Warriors scored the first two times they had the ball in the third quarter to put the game away.
Wahconah tailback Eli Pease rushed for 137 yards on 30 carries, with first-half touchdowns of 2 and 22 yards. His quarterback, Nick Clayton, was 9 for 19 for 147 yards and tossed touchdown passes of 18 and 35 yards to tight end Cole Morrison.
"[The offensive line] has been doing a fantastic job. Actually, all season they’ve been doing a fantastic job," said Pease. "Tonight, they did exceptionally well. They made holes for me and did a great job."
Wahconah played keepaway with the football for the evening. Lee managed to run only 30 offensive plays to 56 for Wahconah. The Wildcats didn’t get their initial first down until backup quarterback Cam Abderhalden connected with Adam Finnegan for 13 yards late in the second quarter.
"We haven’t got it together totally. We just haven’t hit on all cylinders," said Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr., who nonetheless was pleased with the performance. "I think we can be a good football team. When we hit on all cylinders, we’ll be a good football team."
Abderhalden, a sophomore, was pressed into action when starter Deaglan Giarolo hurt his hand on a play in the first quarter. While Giarolo was able to play defense, he could not play under center.
In his place, Abderhalden was 6 for 11 for 55 yards. He did not throw an interception.
"We have a lot of confidence in Cam. He’s always ready to step in," said Thomson. "He stepped in a tough spot, down in the shadow of our own goal posts, where we seemed to be all night. He hung in there and he fought."
The Wildcats did their share of fighting in the first half to keep within two scores at halftime. Punter John Graziano was the most effective weapon in the first half, booming five punts for a 41.6-yard average.
Thomson said that while he wasn’t happy with the first half, the Wildcats were still in the game down 12-0. All they needed was a a quick series by the Wahconah offense to open the third quarter.
Instead, the Warriors mounted a 10-play, 70-yard drive that took six minutes off the clock. The touchdown came on a 18-yard pass from Nick Clayton to Cole Morrison, who outjumped Giarolo in the end zone.
"The receivers can go up and catch it. They jump high and they grab [the ball] at the highest point," said Clayton. "The line gives me time to throw it."
The second score came on a trick play in the third quarter. Clayton took a fourth-down shotgun snap at the Lee 35, faked the pooch kick and found a wide open Morrison over the middle. He rambled for 35 yards and the final touchdown.
Morrison had two catches for 53 yards while Codi Arthur had six receptions for 57 yards.
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Lee 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Wahconah 6 6 12 0 -- 24
W -- Eli Pease 2 run (Pass failed), 2:11.
W -- Pease 22 run (Pass failed), 7:09.
W -- Cole Morrison 18 pass from Nick Clayton (Run failed), 4:46.
W -- Morrison 35 pass from Clayton (Run failed), 2:27.
First Downs 3 18
Rushes-yards 18-4 37-165
Passing yards 55 147
Comp-att-int 7-12-0 9-19-0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-49 4-20
RUSHING-- Lee: Adam Finnegan 6-9, Deaglan Giarolo 1-0, Dan Griffin 1-1, Cam Abderhalden 5-(minus-4), Matt Kelley 5-(minus-2). Wahconah: Eli Pease 30-137, Evan Garvey 1-3, Nick Clayton 6-25.
PASSING -- Lee: Giarolo 1-1-0 0, Abderhalden 6-11-0 55. Wahconah: Clayton 9-19-0 147.
RECEIVING -- Lee: Ryan Reuf 1-0, Griffin 1-8, Heamon Williams 3-34, Finnegan 1-13, Kelley 1-0. Wahconah: Codi Arthur 6-57, Cole Morrison 2-53, Garvey 1-37.