WAGENER — The Pelion Panthers poured onto the field after Wagener-Salley quarterback Malcolm Stroman's last-second prayer went unanswered, having just capped a comeback that saw Pelion score the game's final 17 points en route to a 30-27 road victory on Friday night.
“We made some mistakes in the fourth quarter,” Wagener-Salley head coach Ken Tucker said. “We gave them a couple of opportunities, and they took advantage of them.”
The biggest of those mistakes were a pair of returns, one on a Stroman interception and the other on a shanked punt. Both returns resulted in Pelion field position near the red zone, and both led to scores.
Sidney Sampson's 26-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining proved to be the difference. Stroman led the War Eagles down to the Panthers' 32-yard line before time expired.
Tucker was complimentary of Stroman's effort on the night. The senior signal-caller completed 9-of-18 passes for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I thought he played well,” Tucker said of his quarterback. “We're going to go as far as he takes us.”
Stroman's first touchdown pass, a 21-yarder under heavy duress to Bobby Chavis, gave the War Eagles a 13-7 lead heading into halftime. His next appeared to be a backbreaker, as he found a wide-open Jalonzio Tyler streaking down the field for a 93-yard strike. That score put Wagener-Salley ahead, 27-13.
But Pelion continued to plug away. Led by gritty quarterback Zach Hawkins, who battled through injury for much of the night, the Panthers posted 17 points in the game's final 7:14 to steal the victory.
Hawkins scored on a pair of touchdown runs, and he and Isaiah Jenkins (20 carries for 141 yards and a score) kept the Wagener-Salley defense off-balance for much of the night.
The War Eagles countered with a powerful run game of their own, led by Eric Corley. Corley was brilliant Friday night, tallying 154 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.
Stroman's 1-yard scoring sneak tied the game midway through the second quarter. His next touchdown may have been his best. On a fourth-and-17 from Pelion's 21-yard line, Stroman rolled right to evade the rush and fired to Chavis as another defender barreled toward him.
The fourth quarter was all Pelion, leaving the War Eagles to wonder how the game could have slipped away.
“It will be a learning experience for us,” Tucker said. “We'll just take what happened tonight and learn from it and try to do better next week.”
Wagener-Salley will next head to Whitmire Friday night.
P 7 0 6 17 – 30
WS 0 13 14 0 – 27
P - Zach Hawkins 4 run (Sidney Sampson kick) 2:57
WS - Malcolm Stroman 1 run (TC Rushton kick) 6:27
WS - Stroman 21 pass to Bobby Chavis (kick missed) 0:55
WS - Eric Corley 59 run (kick missed) 5:02
P - Hawkins 8 run (kick missed) 3:15
WS - Stroman 93 pass to Jalonzio Tyler (Henry Odom run) 2:40
P - Hawkins 32 pass to Quincy Kershaw (conversion failed) 7:14
P - Isaiah Jenkins 28 run (Hawkins run) 4:59
P - Sampson 26 field goal 0:21
P - Isaiah Jenkins 20-141-1, Zach Hawkins 15-66-2, Ervin Green 6-26, Freddie Phillips 3-4. Totals 44-237-3.
WS - Eric Corley 20-154-1, Jalonzio Tyler 1-19, Henry Odom 2-10, Ke'Aunri Holmes 1-2, Malcolm Stroman 8-(-4)-1. Totals 32-181-2.
P - Zach Hawkins 4-14-102-1TD-1INT.
WS - Malcolm Stroman 9-18-200-2TD-1INT.
P - Ervin Green 1-51, Quincy Kershaw 1-32-1, Freddie Phillips 2-19. Totals 4-102-1.
WS - Jalonzio Tyler 2-111-1, Bobby Chavis 4-56-1, RJ Tyler 2-28, Kyiian Miller 1-5. Totals 9-200-2.
P - Ervin Green.
WS - Kyiian Miller.