Pioneers beat Patton 24-20
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga found that way to do that at Patton by driving 86 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown. The Pioneers' defense kept Patton out of the end zone on the Panthers' ensuing drive and Watauga walked away with a 24-20 victory Friday in chilly Panthers Stadium.
Watauga (7-2, 3-2 NWC) capped that drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Dobbins to Cam Baker. Dobbins was involved on 11 of the 12 plays by either running the ball or throwing it.
One of those plays was a critical fourth-and-seven completion of a screen pass to Hunter Isaacs, who picked up a first down by the nose of the football. The play was put in earlier in the week by Pioneers coach Ryan Habich to counteract Patton's blitzing linebackers.
"That's one thing about this football team -- they don't panic," Habich said. "They don't get nervous in that situation. They keep playing and I was really pleased with that."
"We just put that play in this week," Isaacs said. "I probably could have gotten more, but I ran into one of my line players. It was a good play because they weren't expecting it. We hadn't run it before."
Watauga won for the first time in three weeks after losing a 41-34 overtime heartbreaker to Freedom and an even tougher 45-44 loss to Hibriten.
Watauga had the ball last against Freedom, but could not score in the overtime after sideline warning penalty pushed the Pioneers back to the 11-yard line.
Watauga failed to convert a two-point conversion with 31 seconds left against Hibriten after erasing a 45-31 deficit.
"We didn't want to lose three games that close," Dobbins said. "It wasn't one of our best games, but everybody was like we don't want to lose three games in a row. The defense really played hard to get that last stop and get us the ball."
Watauga and Patton used different styles to put points on the scoreboard. Patton (7-2, 3-2) used big plays -- one being a 56-yard run by Samson Cuthbertson and a 52-yard touchdown pass from Nick Conklin to Marcus Whitner in the first quarter.
Watauga used long drives to answer. The Pioneers answered Cuthbertson's run, which was scored on the second play of the game, with a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 2-yard run by Nick Williams.
Patton led 14-7 at halftime, but Watauga tied the game on the first drive of the second half with an eight-play, 56-yard drive capped by a Williams' 1-yard touchdown run. That score was set up by a 47-yard run by Dobbins on the first play of the drive.
Dobbins led the Pioneers in rushing with 104 yards on 14 carries, but had no other carries longer than 11 yards the rest of the game.
"The option. You've got to take away the option," Patton coach Joe Glass said. "You've got to take the quarterback. You've got to take away the pitch. You've got to take away all three. We concentrated more on option more than anything else."
The Pioneers took a 17-14 lead on a 31-yard Stephen Shirley field goal, which capped a seven-play drive that started at the Patton 47-yard line, but Cuthbertson sent a thunderbolt through the Pioneers kickoff coverage team by returning the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown.
Watauga finally took the lead for good with Dobbins' pass to Baker, which was the sixth time the two connected on pass plays. Dobbins completed 10-of-20 passes for 178 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Dobbins also led the Pioneers in rushing with 104 yards on 14 carries. Baker finished with 95 yards on six receptions.
"It was just a little hitch route," Dobbins said. "He made a good catch and made some people miss."
The 24 points is the fewest Watauga has scored since a 13-7 win over Ashe in overtime in the second game of the season.
"They've got a good defense and they did a good job defensively," Habich said. "They made it pretty hard for us. Football is a team sport and sometimes the offense is going to do real well and sometimes the defense is going to do really well. Our kids made plays when they needed to."
Cuthbertson finished with 64 yards rushing, but had two long runs called back because of holding penalties. One play that was caled back was a 43-yard run on Patton's third possession of the game.
Conklin completed 11-of-20 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. The Pioneers outgained Patton 321-261 in total offense.
Watauga hosts Hickory this Friday at Jack Groce Stadium. Hickory beat Patton 47-10 earlier in the season.
Watauga 24, Patton 20
Watauga 7 0 7 10 -- 24
Patton 14 0 6 0 -- 20
P--Cuthbertson 56 run (Morris kick)
W--Williams 2 run (Shirley kick)
P--Whitney 21 pass from Conklin (Morris kick)
W--Williams 1 run (Shirley kick)
W--Shirley FG 31
P--Cuthbertson 90 kickoff return (Kick failed)
W--Dobbins 35 pass to Baker (Shirley kick)
First downs 13 8
Rushes-yards 40-143 33-118
Passing yards 178 153
Passes 10-20-2 11-20-1
Total plays-yards 60-321 53-261
Punts-avg. 3-37.0 3-30.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Rushing: Watauga--Dobbins 14-101, Williams 17-58, Poulos 5-17, Ford 4-2; Patton--Cutbertson 8-64, Conklin 8-35, T. Ervin 3-15, Colley 2-(-4).
Passing: Watauga--Dobbins 10-20-2 178; Conklin 11-20-1 153.
Receiving: Watauga--Baker 6-95, Poulos 3-41, Isaacs 1-7; Patton--Ollis 3-47, Whitney 3-31, Colley 2-53, Caraway 1-17, T. Ervin 1-4, R. Cuthbertson 1-1.