Early field goal helps Cardinals edge Wolverines

Published 8:06 am Sunday, September 13, 2015

With crushing defensive plays and explosive runs by both teams, the annual Polk/Landrum varsity football game Friday night, Sept. 11 lived up to it being a traditional football rivalry, as Landrum edged Polk, 24-21, at Cardinal Stadium.

Anthony Anderson, the Cardinals’ blazing fast running back, scored three touchdowns, as Landrum managed to hold off a Wolverine squad that came back from a deficits of 10-0 and 17-7, to go ahead, 21-17. Anderson’s third touchdown run gave the Cardinals the win, but not before Polk’s talented Jamal Wheeler ran for three TDs.

Landrum advanced to 2-1, while Polk is now 1-3.

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With all the focus on the talents of Anderson and Wheeler, the difference in the game was a first quarter Landrum field goal that put the Cardinals ahead, 3-0.

Later, an apparent Polk touchdown was called back on a penalty.

Landrum head coach Jason Farmer was all smiles after the clock ran down at game’s end.

Farmer recalled that with scrimmages against Blue Ridge and Christ Church, and an opening loss to Travelers Rest, “People looked at our pre-season, and said, ‘same old Landrum.’”

“I scheduled those teams for a game like this,” Farmer beamed. He pointed to the team’s discipline, noting, “Discipline won the football game.”

Of Anderson, Farmer observed, “In 24 years, he’s the fastest player I’ve ever coached.”

Polk won the toss, and elected to receive the opening kick. However, a bad snap on their first possession helped force the Wolverines to punt. Jamal Wheeler, under the almost unrelenting pressure he’d feel most of the evening, punted the ball short and out of bounds, with Landrum taking over on Polk’s 22.

Polk’s own defense kept the Cardinals out of the Wolverine end zone, forcing Landrum to go for three, splitting the uprights.

Polk’s Storm Wheeler followed with a fine kickoff return, taking the ball at his own five and fighting his way to the Polk 30. He then carried the ball to the Polk 42, but penalties and a fumble (recovered by Polk) forced the Wolverines to punt.

Jamal Wheeler’s punt carried to the Cardinal end zone. Anderson was able to pick up 10 yards, but the Cardinals were eventually forced to punt.

Early in the second quarter, Jamal Wheeler completed a long pass to Storm Wheeler, who raced into the Cardinals’ end zone, but the officials tagged Polk with an offensive holding infraction that brought the ball back.

With 20 seconds left in the first half, Anderson turned on the afterburners and outran all pursuers for a 65-yard TD. The PAT attempt was good, and Landrum led 10-0.

Occasional bad snaps plagued both teams. One of those forced the Cardinals to punt. Jamal Wheeler, after bobbling the punt, made a fine run to Landrum’s 46. Storm Wheeler then carried the ball to the hosts’ 38.

After covering lots of real estate searching for an opening, Jamal Wheeler ran to the 24. A Jamal Wheeler to Storm Wheeler pass play took the ball to the Cardinal 17. Jamal Wheeler took the ball to the nine, after which runs by Khiree Green put it on the Landrum three. From there, Jamal Wheeler scored his, and the Wolverines’ first TD, with less than one minute remaining in the first half.

Dalton Kuykendall took Polk’s kickoff to Landrum’s 39 before Anderson was tackled after a good run. Time ran out, but the cardinals led, 10-7, at the half.

No scoring took place for nearly 10 minutes, but the Anthony Anderson/Jamal Wheeler showdown was about to explode.

With 9:53 left in the third quarter, Anderson found an opening, and outraced everyone down the left sideline for a 58-yard TD. The ensuing kick put the Cardinals ahead, 17-7, temporarily.

Taking Landrum’s kickoff at his own eight, Jamal Wheeler, once again bobbled the ball, and once again made a fine run. This time, however, no one caught him, and 92 yards later, he tore into the Cardinals’ end zone. Davis Derkach made the second of his three PAT attempts, and the Cardinals lead was sliced to 17-14.

Runs by Anderson, and Landrum quarterback Peyton Kemmerin fell just short of a first down, forcing the hosts to punt. That punt went out of bounds at Polk’s 35, but shortly after, Jamal Wheeler broke off another fine run, this time making it to Landrum’s 42.

Carries by Jamal Wheeler and Khiree Green took Polk to the Cardinal 15. Jamal Wheeler eventually scored from the five, giving Polk its first lead of the night. Derkach made it 21-17, with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Each team held off the other on the next two possessions, but with some eight minutes left in the game, Anderson raced 75 yards down the right sideline for another TD. The PAT made it 24-21, ending the evening’s scoring.

Later, with 1:20 left in the game, Polk took its last time out. The best Polk could manage in the last seconds of the game was to reach the Landrum 30, with no time to go farther.

Chandler Patrick, who returned to Polk’s lineup recently, turned in some solid ground gains. Landrum’s defense included hard hitting by Stanley Belue-Taylor.

Polk head coach Jamie Thompson, obviously disappointed, was able to find bright spots.

“We came back,” he observed, “we fought.” He also acknowledged, “You would think that it would be us that had the big plays, but it was them. We looked rattled to start the game. They ended up making the plays.”

This Friday, Sept. 18, Landrum hosts Carolina Academy from Greenville, while the Wolverines visit East Henderson. Both games are set to begin at 7:30.