GLADEVILLE -- Special teams giveth, but then taketh right back from Wilson Central Friday night against visiting LaVergne. And for the second week in a row, it took a victory from the Wildcats.
A week after special teams play doomed them in the opener, the Wildcats struggled again in a 21-17 loss to the Wolverines.
A blocked punt helped put the Wilson Central up two scores, but allowing a kick return for a score, followed by a shanked punt in the first half and a high snap for a big loss on a punt in the second half, enabled the Wolverines to score the comeback victory and send the Wildcats to an 0-2 start. They will try to rebound next Friday when they begin district play at Hendersonville.
Things got off to a good start for Wilson Central on the special teams end.
The Wildcats, after having thwarted a deep opening drive from the Wolverines and turning it into a score, managed to block a punt deep in LaVergne territory and use it help build an early 14-0 lead.
A La Vergne fumble on its opening series opened the door for Wilson Central to jump out to an early 7-0 lead. The Wildcats capitalized on the turnover with a long pass to get into scoring range, and Brandon Mallory went in from the 2.
LaVergne then had a punt blocked on its own 4, and Wilson Central needed just two plays to build the lead to 14-0. D.J. Majors scored from the 1.
We had the blocked punt to get the momentum early and then we kick it off and they go 98 yards for the score and get the momentum right back, Wilson Central coach Brad Dedman said.
Then the special teams gremlins struck again.
The Wolverines answered right back with a special teams play of their own when Jalen Taylor returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to cut the lead in half near the end of the first quarter.
The high snap on a Wilson Central punt, with eight minutes left in the game, was the turning point. The Wildcats lost 35 yards on the play, placing the ball at their own 26. From there, Jalen Taylor needed just one play to make up the difference, running untouched down the right side for La Vergne's game-winning score.
The Wolverines held off a late, 10-play drive that ended with L.J. Dismuke intercepting Jordan Roundtree at the La Vergne 25 and returning it to midfield to secure the victory.
We were looking to hit something in the flats and get seven yards, Dedman said of the fourth-and-6 play at the Wolverine 37. But they got there and made the play.
Special teams helped the Wolverines in the second quarter as well. After having a long fourth down pass intercepted by Centrals Nick Grant at the 1-yard line, the La Vergne defense stuffed every attempt Wilson Central made to get away from its own goal line. And a 14-yard punt from the back of the end zone certainly helped, too.
The Wolverines needed just one play -- a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dustin Bills to Sedale Roland -- to even the score at 14 with seven minutes left in the first half.
Brad Cavonaugh booted a 39-yard field goal to give Wilson Central a 17-14 lead at the half.
By CORBY A. YARBROUGH