Valdosta Beats Ware

Gators lose to Wildcats 35-6.

The 4-A Ware County Gator football fans experienced nervous anticipation as Friday nights game against the 5-A Valdosta Wildcats approached. The Gators played well in a losing effort (28-34) to another 5-A team, Lowndes County, last week and looked forward to coming home to a recently refurbished Memorial Stadium. Valdosta last week played the #2 team in the nation, Lincoln from Tallahassee FLA, to a 29-29 tie. The Gators knew if they were going to beat the always good Valdosta team they would have to play even better and find a way to somehow win.

Valdosta's offense ran into a tough Ware County defense in the first half. On there opening drive they were stopped while going for a first down on a fourth down try. Ware's offense moved the ball but was stalled in the red zone by a stingy Valdosta defense. Ware did get 3 points off their first possession, a 26 yard field goal by Fleming. The Ware County defense intercepted Valdosta's Cedric Hatten on their next possession. #21 Leodis Mckelvin picked off the ball and returned to the Wildcat's 40 yard line.

The only other points scored by the Gators were off a fumbled punt, which was recovered on the Wildcat's 13 yard line by Ware's Zack Smith. Ware was backed up by the Valdosta defense but was able to score on a 39 yard field goal by Fleming. Ware now led 6-0 after the start of the 2nd quarter. Neither offense clicked in the first half but turnovers and special team play had the momentum swing from the Gators after a little over a quarter to Valdosta. With 8:34 left in the half Valdosta returned a punt 65 yards for a touch down and with seconds left #90 Blake ran a fumble in from 19 yards out to take a 14-6 lead in to the half. Valdosta's offensive plays were mostly on the ground with a lot of quarterback runs. Ware was able to key on the quarterback and keep the Wildcats offense from scoring. Ware's offense mixed the run and pass but was not able to dominate. Valdosta's defense didn't give up a touch down off the turnovers and slowed the Gator offense, seeming to get better on every play.

Half time fireworks concluded the rededication ceremonies of the recently renovated Memorial Stadium in Waycross. Some say it is the best high school football stadium in Georgia. The fireworks display was about the last thing Gator fans had to cheer about for the rest of the evening. Ware's offense continued to stall. Valdosta's offense picked up both on the ground and eventually in the air. Ware's defense spent a lot of time on the field and began to tire. Valdosta's defense continued play from the first half and shut out the Gator's in the second half.

On the Wildcats first possession of the second half they marched 80 yards, scoring a 2 yard touch down run by QB Hatten. Valdosta's Williams intercepted a Daniels pass on their own 8 yard line and again drove the ball for another touch down, a 7 yard run again by QB Hatten. Valdosta now led 28-6 early in the 4th quarter. Off the ensuing kick off Valdosta's Corey Wright recovered a fumble on the Ware 7 yard line. A few plays later the Wildcats scored again, an 11 yard run by Joseph Robertson. With 10:35 left in the game Valdosta was well in control leading 35-6. Valdosta got 2 more turnovers, an interception in the end zone and a fumbled punt before the game ended. By 7 minutes left Valdosta started substituting and shortly there after, Ware followed suit.

For the first quarter and a little bit the Gators had the momentum and were getting some big plays and turnovers. They played without starting running back Tommy Jones but it's doubtful his playing would have stopped the eventual dominance by the Wildcats. Valdosta has an open week next week before hosting Madison County Oct. 11th. Ware travels to play Brunswick next week. They will have an open date Oct. 11th before they start their region games.

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