But instead of a last second comeback, the crowd at Wolfpack Stadium watched senior Max Kemether’s pass to Matt Olson get broken up as Gordon Lee (4-1) hung on for a 19-14 win Friday.
“I think everybody got their money’s worth tonight,” said Whitefield coach Jimmy Fields. “ (But) losing is unacceptable and you find out a lot about yourself when you lose.
“As much as we’ve learned in this young season, Game 4 will teach us a lot.”
They learned to focus early on as the Trojans struck on the opening kickoff. Junior Zack Cobb raced through arm tackles and streaked down the sideline for an early 7-0 lead.
“That started everything off,” Gordon Lee coach Johnny Wiggins said. “I said (to a coach), ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if he took this one back and he goes to the house.’
“We didn’t expect it, but it put us in a good situation and gave us momentum.”
That momentum didn’t last as the Whitefield defense stood strong. They held the Trojans to just 70 yards of total offense in the first half, stopped them a total of four times on fourth down and got their team on the scoreboard when Max Rieves correctly read a screen pass.
The senior safety jumped the route for an easy interception and raced 20 yards to tie the game at 7-7 going into the half.
“We fought hard. We did what we could, but we have to work together,” said Whitefield senior lineman Steven Lemasters. “As hard as we fought, we’d like to come back with a win but we didn’t quit on that game.”
Trailing 13-7, the Wolfpack defense denied Gordon Lee quarterback Garret McAllister at the 1-yard line late in the third quarter for a turnover on downs. From the end zone, Whitefield’s Richard Sherrell, who ran for 90 yards on 17 carries, broke through the middle for a 54-yard gain. A facemask penalty helped move the chains and Kemether’s 3-yard pass to Rieves gave them a brief 14-13 lead.
It was brief because Cobb answered back with a 58-yard touchdown run five plays later with what would be the difference. But Fields saw something different about his team, symbolized on the Trojans’ Dalton Owens 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
On the play, senior linebacker James Schultz laid out at the 1-yard line attempting to strip the ball.
“That kind of optimizes our night,” Fields said. “Our kids never gave up. We just came up short.”