Wolverines fall to Bearcats

Published 1:08 pm Monday, November 9, 2015

Hendersonville's Michael Cook (#12) has the ball but isn't going far, as Polk County's Josh Chupp (#6) is about to take him down at Columbus on Friday night. It was the last home game of the season for the conference rivals, with the Bearcats winning, 34-22. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

Hendersonville’s Michael Cook (#12) has the ball but isn’t going far, as Polk County’s Josh Chupp (#6) is about to take him down at Columbus on Friday night. It was the last home game of the season for the conference rivals, with the Bearcats winning, 34-22. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

Visiting Hendersonville players on Friday, Nov. 6, drew an invisible bull’s eye on Polk County varsity quarterback Jamal Wheeler, and swarmed him like angry hornets, defeating the Wolverines, 34-22.

Turnovers and an apparent touchdown called back on a penalty helped do in the Wolverines.

The Wolverines 3-3 final Western highlands Conference mark (Hendersonville moved to 5-1) means that Polk travels to Thomasville this Friday, Nov. 13, to meet the Bulldogs in the first round of state playoffs. Opening kickoff is set for 7:30.

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“We shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Wolverine head coach Jamie Thompson observed.

“We fought back,” Thompson continued, “but turned the ball over again. The kids played hard, but we couldn’t catch a break. We’ll have to rebound and get ready for playoffs. The kids fought. They fought to the end.”

Thompson said that he told his players before the game, to fight, and not worry about the score, that he would do that.

Polk won the pre-game coin flip, and elected to kickoff. Smothering Polk’s short, bouncing kickoff around midfield, Hendersonville marched the rest of the way to Polk’s end zone, with Tyrese Hunt breaking in from the one.

Unable to execute their own drive, Polk was forced to punt. Once the Bearcats had the ball, quarterback Mike Schmidt hit Leon Cooks for a short completion, after which, Cooks carried to the Polk 41. The Bearcats scored again, this on Schmidt’s six-yard keeper, following a good run by Terrold Gary to Polk’s six. This time, the extra-point kick attempt was no good, but he Bearcats still led, 13-0.

After Polk took over at its 44, Jamal Wheeler hit the recently-returned Dillon Overholt for a completion to the Bearcat 34. From there, Jamal Wheeler dashed in on a keeper. Davis Derkach’s kick cut Hendersonville’s lead to 13-7.

The Bearcats eventually punted, with Storm Wheeler making a fine return to the Polk 40, just before the first quarter ended.

However, Polk’s troubles intensified when Gary intercepted a Jamal Wheeler pass, and ran it back all the way. Schmidt’s two-point keeper made it 21-7, Bearcats.

Polk’s next drive seemed to signal a Wolverine turnaround. Facing fourth and a yard, Jamal Wheeler hit Shakur Wingo for a completion in the Bearcats’ end zone, but celebration was short, as the play was called back on a costly penalty. Polk punted.

On the Bearcats’ first play, Gary shot downfield for 52 yards for another score, giving Hendersonville a 28-7 lead.

After Polk was forced to punt once more, hope appeared when Jamal Wheeler intercepted a Schmidt pass at the Polk 20. Hurt temporarily on the play, Wheeler was replaced by Dillon Overholt in the third quarter.

Overholt responded gamely, with ground-gaining keepers, but not throwing the ball. Storm heeler also helped get the ball to the Bearcat 14. With the Bearcats not expecting a throw, Storm Wheeler threw complete to Josh Chupp in Hendersonville’s end zone. The kick was good, and Polk was within striking distance at 28-14.

On its next possession, Polk advanced to the Hendersonville 20 before the Bearcats’ Leon Cooks recovered a fumble. Hendersonville was unable to score, missing a field goal from the Polk 16.

On Polk’s next drive, Jamal Wheeler hit Dillon Knighton with a long pass. Knighton was forced out at the Bearcat one, but, with 6:19 left in the game, Shakur Wingo shot into the end zone for a TD. Jamal Wheeler made it 28-22 on a two-point keeper.

Three minutes later, Schmidt scored on a one-yard keeper to boost the visitors’ lead. Khiree Green blocked the extra-point kick attempt, but the score held, with the Bearcats winning, 34-22.

Thompson praised Dillon Overholt noting that the sophomore “did a good job in a pressure situation.” Thompson also noted that his team’s future is bright, but that he feels badly for this year’s seniors.