Wylie poach the Eagles of Rowlett

Homecoming night was one of the most beautiful nights of the season for Wylie Pirate fans. The skies were open and the homecoming court was to be announced at halftime. The stadium had filled to the brim on both sides, and AHMO was in the air. "Maroon Out" could be read from the home side while band members shuffled into their seats.

Wylie – Nikita Whitlock – Wylie, and Dexter Imade - Rowlett, are two players at their positions that can do major damage to their opponents. Whitlock is one of 8-5A's most prolific defensive linemen while Dexter Imade is capable of carrying the entire Eagle's squad on his back as the team's main tailback. Heading into this game Wylie knew Imade was their #1 target. They'd have to push him down and never let him up. On the other hand, Rowlett did not want any part of Whitlock. Whitlock has a history of doing well against other teams and their offensive lines. As someone who has attended almost every game for the 2+ years he has started, I can not recall a single game where he has not had a sack, a blocked punt, or a blocked field goal or extra point. One of these players would have a career game, while the other would stumble his way through the game.

Homecoming night was one of the most beautiful nights of the season for Wylie Pirate fans. The skies were open, the homecoming court was to be announced at halftime, and the choir ended the pregame ceremonies with their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The stadium had filled to the brim on both sides, and AHMO was in the air. "Maroon Out" could be read from the home side while band members shuffled into their seats. Quite possibly the biggest test for either team was about to begin.

Rowlett (2-2) was coming off a loss to 9-5A powerhouse Carrollton Creekview, after two previous impressive wins against North Mesquite and their long time rivals from across the bridge, Rockwall. Wylie (4-0) is having their best season since moving to 5A three years ago. They previously beat Hebron by 7, who is having a difficult season up to this point. They then proceeded with blowouts against Arlington Seguin, and Mesquite Horn. With both teams looking to end non-district on a solid note, they were expected to bring the house, as they did. Wylie would prevail in a game where good defensive play was key.

Rowlett was held to punts on their first two drives. The second punt would never get off as the snap was mishandled. In an attempt to kick the ball out of the end zone, preventing the touchdown, the kicker did not get enough oomph into the illegal kick, bouncing it into the end zone. Wylie senior, Corey Smith was there to gobble it up, resulting in the touchdown giving Wylie the 6-0 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Wylie kicker Zac Ohannessian pooched the ball towards the sideline.

The ball took a generous bounce as Rowlett thought it was heading out of bounds. Pirate Joseph Batiste ran towards the sideline and fell on the ball as it stayed motionless near the Rowlett 19 yard line. On fourth down, Ohannessian's 27 yard field goal attempt was good, yielding a 10-0 opening quarter lead for Wylie.

As Rowlett moved the ball methodically down field, several mistakes would lead to a 3rd and 38 from their own 35. Wylie junior defensive back Zach Lowe jumped in front of a Scott West pass and returned the interception to the Rowlett 46 yard line with 3:04 left in the first quarter. Nine plays later, with none totaling more than 12 yards, Nick Knott took the handoff into the end zone from 5 yards out. Wylie added to their lead, 17-0 after the successful extra point.

Rowlett would answer back, but not before Whitlock would make his presence known. On 1st and 10 from the 39 yard line, Dexter Imade took a hit behind the line of scrimmage losing 4 yards. Imade would then have runs of 3 and 39 yards before another center-quarterback exchange would cost them 14 yards. On a 3rd and long, Blake Taylor Marquise Goodwin in the end zone cutting Wylie's lead to 17-7.

On Wylie's next possession, after an onside kick was recovered by the Pirates, Jones rushed 33 yards on 3 carries while Knott had a 16 yard run. Monk then scrambled into the end zone from 5 yards out giving Wylie the commanding 24-7 lead with 7:30 remaining in the first half.

Less than 15 seconds later, Rowlett would answer the call. On 1st and 10 from their own 32 yard line, Blake Taylor found Marquise Goodwin on the post for a 68 yard pass completion leading to a touchdown. Goodwin would have 7 catches on the night for 140 yards. A couple of possessions later, Rowlett set up for a 40 yard field goal attempt. Daniel Jordan weaved his way through the line and blocked the kick. One offensive play later, halftime came with a Pirate 10 point lead.

Opening the second half, Wylie elected to receive. Needing only 65 yards for the touchdown, Wylie looked to increase their lead. Knott started the drive with a shovel pass from Jared Monk for a 29 yard gain. Six plays later, he ran it in for the touchdown from 10 yards out, giving Wylie the 17 point lead, 31-14. After Marquale Pierson returned the kickoff to the 47 yard line, and 3 consecutive rushes totaling 30 yards, Taylor found Nick Adkins on the fade in the end zone decreasing Wylie's lead to 31-21. It would take Wylie nearly 7 minutes and 2 possessions before scoring again. On 4th and 4, Noah Cheshier found a wide open Nick Knott for a 51 yard touchdown pass.

The story of the 4th quarter was not the offense. It was Wylie's defense. In a span of just over seven minutes and two Rowlett possessions, the defense came up with 4 of their 9 total sacks - Three of them by Nikita Whitlock. With 4:48 to go in the game, Wylie scored the final points via 6 yard pass from Monk to Colby Harper. Wylie would go on to win the game by the final score of 45-21.

KEY STATS:

PASSING
Rowlett: Blake Taylor 7-15-0-133
Wylie: Jared Monk 11-19-0-92

RUSHING
Rowlett: Dexter Imade 17-87
Wylie: Johnny Jones 11-59, Nick Knott 10-54

RECEIVING
Rowlett: Marquise Goodwin 7-140
Wylie: Logan Lambert 3-48, Nick Knott 3-47


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