BY WIL CREWS
Entering Friday night, the seniors on the varsity Lee-Scott football team were winless against region rival and AISA powerhouse Glenwood.
“They are very talented,” said Lee-Scott head coach Buster Daniel of Glenwood. “They have athletes all over the field.”
When the clock hit double zero, however, the student section had stormed the field and the Warriors had stunned the No. 3 Gators with a statement 23-22 victory.
The Warriors were spurred to victory in large part by quarterback-turned-Swiss-army-knife Tate McKevley. By game’s end, the senior led the team in rushing, had 31 receiving yards and was responsible for two touchdowns — one on the ground and one passing.
“Tate was a leader last year, as far as just how he plays the game,” Daniel said. “He transformed into a leader with his mouth and his actions, and just the whole nine yards now as a senior. He’s filling that role extremely well for us right now.”
Mid-way through the fourth quarter — after taking the lead early and then losing it — the Warriors trailed 17-22. McKelvey, who played like a man with a personal vendetta against the swamps and all things alligator, was looking at one more opportunity to earn his team the upset win.
Lee-Scott began on its own 30-yard line. Together with junior backup quarterback Ryan Dearing (who took snaps when McKelvey played receiver), McKelvey led the Warriors down the field in rapid succession. Five-yard rush; three-yard rush; four-yard rush; 11-yard rush, etc. … the Warriors methodically moved the chains against the vaunted Glenwood defense.
With 2:43 remaining in the game, the Warriors faced a goal-to-go situation. McKelvey handed the ball off to sophomore running back JJ Meyers who plunged through a crowd of Gator defenders and into the end zone. Lee-Scott would attempt and fail the two-point conversion, but had taken a 23-22 lead.
The Glenwood offense — which had been inconsistent for most of the night — took the field with one more chance to retake the lead. A field goal would be enough to win the game. It looked as if the Gators would respond quickly after picking up a first down, however, near the 50-yard line, with time ticking down, the Lee-Scott defense rose to the occasion. On fourth-and-one with less than a minute remaining in the game, junior Lee-Scott defensive end Joseph Horne broke through the backfield and swatted Gator quarterback Dallas Crows’ pass to the ground, forcing a turnover on downs and giving the ball back to Lee-Scott.
The Warriors took the field one more time in victory formation, delivering the seniors, fans and coaches their first win of the season and their first win over their rival in four years.
“You always talk about getting better from week to week,” Daniel said. “That’s how you win football games; you can’t really beat yourself.”
Overall, Lee-Scott played like a much different team from the one which lost 41-3 to Chambers Academy in week one.
The mentality shift was apparent from the coin toss where the Warriors elected to receive the ball in an attempt to put their mark on the game before Glenwood even had the chance.
The attempt failed, but the Warriors still found some success, picking up the 30 yards and connecting on a chunk play, 28-yard reception to McKelvey.
Following the punt to Glenwood, the Warriors immediately forced the Gators to punt the ball back. Glenwood hurt itself throughout the night with sloppy and untimely penalties, which only lent to Lee-Scott’s confidence and success. The Warriors were the first team to break the scoring deadlock with a 39-yard field goal from Matthew Rolader.
From there, the Warriors took a 10-0 lead with a back-foot touchdown pass from McKelvey to junior Alex Cash.
Momentum began to flip in the second quarter, however, as Glenwood responded with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to take a 15-10 halftime lead.
The second half featured an uptick in performance from the Lee-Scott defensive line and a feverous commitment to the ground game from the offense. McKelvey put the Warriors back on top, 17-15, with a 5-yard rushing touchdown.
Glenwood retook the lead, 22-17, on the next drive with a 1-yard Crow rushing touchdown.
Crow also passed for 255 yards and one TD as the Gator rushing attack was limited for most of the night.
The Warriors tallied 256 yards on the night, with 141 rushing and 115 passing. McKelvey accounted for 107 of the ground yards and Cash had the lone receiving touchdown. Defensively, Dearing led the team with six tackles.
They say “throw out the record book” when rivals face off. That may be true, but Lee-Scott is going to remember this one for a long time.
Lee-Scott (1-1) is back in action Friday as they host another rival and region foe, Pike Liberal Arts (2-1) at 7 p.m.