Gator ground game sinks Seahawks

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A crushing ground game by the Gators on the Wewahitchka High School home field Friday night thwarted the Franklin County Seahawks as they dropped their season opener 40-6.

After trailing 33-0 early in the final quarter, coach Dirk Strunk’s Seahawks managed to get on the board when junior quarterback Evan Stanley threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to junior Weston Bockelman.

But other than that, it was a long night, as the Gators amassed 503 yards on the night, and all on the ground.

Running back Alex Williams had three touchdown runs to lead Wewahitchka, while Zay McDaniel added two more and Keegan Calhoun another. Luke Hjort converted five of his six extra point tries. 

“They’re a well-coached team and they executed their game plan,” said Strunk. “(Alex Williams) is a tremendous athlete. He made one run where he went back and forth, sideline to sideline, at least four times before he cut downfield.

“We just didn’t have an answer for number 12,” he said. “He’s someone we’re going to see playing on Saturdays in a couple years.”

In all, Williams tallied 203 yards on 11 carries, 18.5 yards per carry.  Wewahitchka had six players carry the ball, with two going over 100 yards. The Gators averaged more than 12 yards a carry for the game. 

Wewahitchka scored an early touchdown to lead after one quarter and added 12 in the second quarter to lead 19-0 at halftime. 

The Gators stretched the lead with a touchdown and conversion in the third quarter and after the Seahawks scored their touchdown, Wewahitchka put up 14 more points in the final quarter. 

“We would get inside the 20 and an individual wall would come out,” said Strunk. “We didn’t finish drives. We drove all the way down to their 15 and stalled out.”

The Seahawks recovered three fumbles, by seniors Trey Jones and Devin Daniels, and junior Wil Varnes, but none of the three pounces led to scores.

“We have to do a better job of capitalizing on turnovers. We got to finish drives,” said Strunk. “We had six dropped passes.”

Junior Evan Stanley completed three of the 21 passes he threw on the night, for 56 yards. In addition to the touchdown strike to Bockelman, there were two completions to senior Charlee Winchester, for 12 and 3 yards. Stanley threw two interceptions.

Despite the loss, Strunk said he saw progress in his team from week one.

The team produced 133 yards on the ground, rushing 31 times, or 4.3 yards per carry. Stanley led the Seahawks with 84 yards on 14 carries, including a 25-yard burst.

Junior Larry Winchester ran 14 times for 44 yards, nine yards his longest. Freshman Cody Abercrombie ran twice for three yards, and freshman Amontae Austin once for two yards.

On defense, Larry Winchester led two eight tackles and three assists, while Charlee Winchester had six tackles and three assists. Sophomore Mason Moses had five tackles and two assists.

Austin had three tackles, sophomore Wyatt Abercrombie three tackles and one assist., junior Bryce Gilbert three tackles and two assists, Jones two tackles, Junior Blakely Curry and Daniles each one tackle, Varnes one tackle and one assist, senior Brycin Huckeba one tackle, junior Gage Boone one assist, junior Cooper Bowden two assists and Larry Millender one assist.

On kickoff returns, Larry Winchester has a 26-yard return, Bockelman two for 15 yards, Charlee Winchester one for 18 yards and Austin one for 15 yards.

“We have to continue to improve,” Strunk said. “We have a long way to go but we’re getting there. We have made progress and there are things we have improved upon.”

Friday night's away game in Shalimar against Rocky Bayou has been rescheduled due to the impact of Hurricane Sally. The Seahawks will play Rocky Bayou on Monday, Oct. 26. 

This article originally appeared on The Apalachicola Times: Gator ground game sinks Seahawks

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