Turnovers push Wildcats past Trojans

Bandys celebrated Homecoming on Friday, but Draughn spoiled the party.

The Wildcats (3-2, 1-0) collected two second-half turnovers to overcome a 7-3 halftime deficit and hold on for an 18-13 conference victory over Bandys (4-1, 0-1).

“The biggest thing is that we had the lead and an opportunity to win,” said Bandys coach Randy Lowman. “We just made fatal mistakes.”

Bandys took a halftime lead by running the football and shutting down Draughn’s offense.

The Trojans tallied 138 yards of offense in the half, including 69 rushing yards and a score from Dominique Young. He entering Friday’s first conference game with 342 yards on 61 carries and three touchdowns.

Equally as impressive was Bandys defense, which yielded only 74 first-half yards to their opponents.

“Dominique played well,” Lowman said. “He runs hard every week and plays all night long. Defensive played solid. Things were working well.”

Things went downhill from there for Bandys, but it didn’t seem that way at first.

Opening the second half, the Trojans got their air attack working. After throwing for 21 yards in the first half, Bandys quarterback Anthony Toscano completed two passes — a 24-yard strike to Deandre Mack for a first down and a 10-yard touchdown pass on third down to Ryon Ripper. The Trojans led 13-3 after a missed extra point.

Draughn immediately answered with their own passing game. After a opening the game with a 20-yard passing performance on 2-for-7 attempts, Draughn quarterback Keith Loomis completed two big passes on the Wildcats’ first drive of the second half.

He found Alex McGee for a 50-yard throw and catch on the first play of the drive. He later converted a crucial fourth-down-and-11 with a 22-yard strike to Jordan Moore.

The drive was capped off by two-yard touchdown run by Loomis. The Wildcats went for a two-point conversion after two offsides penalties on the Bandys defense put the ball on the half-inch line. The try failed, leaving the score at 13-9 and putting Draughn in the position needing a touchdown to take the lead.

Trying a little trickery on with an onside kickoff, Wildcats kicker Alex McGee bounced the ball off two Trojans and into the hands of Draughn’s Jaron Johnson.

Carrying momentum from the recovery, the Wildcats marched inside the red zone, and scored on a 29-yard field goal by McGee.

The game continued to swing in Draughn’s favor on the next drive. After getting the ball back, Bandys attempted to regain momentum, but a forced throw by Toscano proved costly. The first turnover of the game, an interception by collected Draughn’s Christian Caldwell, was returned 61 yards for a touchdown.

“We were in good shape,” Lowman said. “Everyone on the field knew they were going to onside kick. We just didn’t handle it. We give them another quick field goal. We come back and probably panicked too quick. We threw them an interception for a touchdown.”

Bad kharma continued for the Trojans. They got the ball back after the ensuing kickoff, trying to start a scoring drive. After Young was limited to six carries for 13 yards in the second half, Bandys turned to fullback Jackson Gilliam.

He rushed for 11 yards on first down, but coughed up the football. Draughn’s Johnson, who recovered the earlier onside kick, fell on top of the football to give the Wildcats possession.

“Jackson made a good play and then fumbled on first down,” Lowman said. “We just made mistakes you can’t make against a good team. We are good when everything works. The last few games and against East Lincoln, we haven’t turned the ball over. We’ve finished drives. We didn’t do either of those two things tonight.”

In one final gasp of air, Bandys tried to take the ball 70 yards to score. Toscano had 10 passes during the drive, completing two on fourth down for a combined 55 yards, but a scramble with three seconds remaining ran out the clock, sealing the Wildcat win.

The Trojans host Newton-Conover, another CVAC team that lost Friday. The loser of the game will be 0-2 in conference play, but Lowman is optimistic his team will come out to play.

“A few years ago, we had a really good football team,” Lowman said. “We were lucky enough it wasn’t a conference game, but we went down to East Lincoln and had a performance like this one against Draughn. They knocked our eyes shut. We decided we didn’t like that, came back and won nine in a row. We’ve got to get our heads squared away and rebound. We will come in Monday and practice hard. We’ll have a good game next week. I feel like we will.”