By TOMMY BRYAN
GLADEVILLE -- Missteps in Lebanon’s kicking game and a pair of costly fumbles opened the door just wide enough for Wilson Central to waltz in and claim a thrilling 14-13 victory over the Blue Devils in Friday’s Week Zero season opener at Wildcat Stadium.
Trailing 14-13, with 2:45 remaining in regulation, Lebanon marched 75 yards in 11 plays all the way to the Central five yard line. Stopping the clock with :06 seconds left, the Blue Devil field goal unit came on for a potential 22-yard game-winning three pointer.
Central’s first year head coach Brad Dedman burned back-to-back timeouts hoping to ice Lebanon’s kicker. The attempt was pulled wide left -- giving Dedman his initial career win.
“We lost two fumbles and both of those really hurt,” said LHS coach Bobby Brown, “we gave up a couple of punt returns -- one that set up the go-ahead score. We had our chances to put the game away -- well before that last kick.”
Lebanon played well enough on defense to get the win -- giving up just 155 yards in total offense and six first downs to the Wildcats.
Junior quarterback Patrick Maynard accounted for 185 yards in total offense -- rushing 22 times for 108 and completing 6-of-11 passes for 77 yards. He threw a 30-yard TD strike to wideout Kelan Rhodes.
Senior Juicy Apple ran eight times for 46 yards and soph Ethan Copas had a solid varsity debut with 45 yards on six carries -- including a 26 yard burst around right end on his first attempt.
Tailback Darell Stewart led Wilson Central in rushing with 57 yards on 12 attempts -- including a 34-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. QB Hunter Cranford completed 3-of-5 passes for 19 yards and for the most part steered his team clear of trouble.
Defensively, senior linebacker Nathan Corn was in on several big hits, including three tackles for loss.
LHS hosts Rossview High in the home-opener Friday night while Wilson Central entertains Rhea County.