Franklin County pounced on four Wewahitchka fumbles Friday night to give the Seahawks the edge in a 27-26 comeback win.
Junior quarterback Duane Griggs paced the Seahawk offense with three touchdowns, the finale set up after the Seahawks forced a Gator punt with time running down. Griggs snared the punt at midfield and then galloped 30 yards to the Gator 21 with less than four minutes to play.
He ran in untouched on the first play from scrimmage, but that was called back on penalties. So he did it again, a thrilling 12-yard jog with 2:08 left in the game, for the go-ahead score.
His team trailing by one, Wewahitchka sophomore quarterback Rashard Rainey threw three incomplete passes before connecting on a 17-yarder to junior tight end Javar Hill for a first down at the Seahawk 33.
Two quick passes to senior Jarvest Sherfield gave Wewa a third and five in the red zone with 44 seconds left, but an interception by junior defensive back Logan McLeod sealed the comeback victory for the Seahawks.
“They gave us a lot of breaks, they gave us the ball a lot,” said Seahawks coach Josh Wright. “Our kids played stinking hard.”
Wewahitchka struck first blood after sophomore defensive back Matt Arnold intercepted a Griggs pass to give the Gators position inside Seahawks territory. With 10:22 left in the first quarter, Rainey lobbed a high throw to 5’11 senior Jay Shiver for the score and a 6-0 gator lead.
Griggs, who finished the night with 153 yards on 13 carries, followed suit, after junior Holden Foley recovered a Gator fumble. With 3:18 left in the first quarter, Griggs ran 39 yards for the score. Senior kicker Zach Howze connected on the first of three extra points, and the Seahawks led 7-6.
With 1:03 left in the half, the Gators boosted their lead, with a 30-yard pass from Rainey to senior Clay Sasser. The two-point conversion pass was incomplete, and Wewa clung to a 12-7 lead going into halftime.
On the opening play of the second half, Sherfield did all he could to break the game wide open, as he ran the kickoff back 83 yards for the score. But once again the extra point conversion try failed, and the Gators led 18-7
A 40-yard rush by Griggs to the five-yard-line positioned senior fullback Ladarius Rhodes to bully his way in for the score with 4:30 left.
A fumble recovery by senior tackle Direek Farmer on the Seahawk 30 gave Rhodes and senior Skyler Hutchinson a chance to chew up yards. The drive downfield ended when Griggs scored his second touchdown of the night on a 30-yard prance, and a 21-18 lead with 1:10 left in the third quarter.
Wewa defensive pressure enabled the Gators to take over on downs deep in Seahawks territory. Senior running back Jayln Addison rushed from the six-yard-line, and the Gators connected on the two-point conversion to put the Gators ahead 26-21.
Hutchinson tallied 75 yards on 17 carries, and Rhodes 55 yards on nine carries, as the Seahawks amassed 291 yards on the ground.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Seahawks, evening their record at 1-4 with the Gators.
“We had an early season meltdown of mental approach and some egos,” said Wright. “We’ve smoothly worked that out.”