Patriots defeat Wildcats 30-26 for third win of season

Patriots Shai Wheeler getting to the outside. (Ron Morris)

The Independence Patriots come from behind to beat the Wildcats 30-26 to pick-up their third victory in four games this season.  The Patriots are winning the football games they are supposed to put in the win column this year.  This is a huge step in the programs second year of the rebuilding process for the seven time 4A state champions.

Antwan Watson bursting into the end zone for TD.
(Ron Morris)

Head Coach Natoli is pleased with the teams progress and feels this group is becoming a competitive football team.  “I like our ability to bounce back and come from behind,” said coach Natoli.

Coach Natoli getting on the defense in the first quarter. (Ron Morris)

In the first quarter the Garinger Wildcats struck first on a 39 yard pass reception to go up quickly 6-0, the PAT went wide right.  The Patriots would deliver after a 15 yard gainer to WR Trevor Bryan for a first down at the Wildcats 35.  On first down QB Luke McPhail would find sophomore WR open at the 27 yard line who would catch the pass in full stride and take it to the house with some nifty running to put the Patriots up 7-6, Ryan Howe would kick the PAT straight threw the uprights.

After the Wildcats would go up 13-7 on a 42 yard touchdown with some poor tackling on the part of the Patriots the offense would once again bounce back.  With just 41 seconds remaining in the quarter McPhail would connect with speedster receiver Shai Wheeler for a 2 yard touchdown putting the home team up 14-13 with Howe connecting on the PAT.

QB Luke McPhail hands off to Antwan Watson and Dillon Tweed blocking. (Ron Morris)

In the second quarter the Patriots had some scoring opportunities to break the game wide open, however, both drives ended with interceptions in the end zone by the Wildcats keeping the score at 14-13 at halftime.

In the second half the Wildcats would take the opening kickoff 76 yards for a TD.  The two point conversion attempt failed and the visitors suddenly had a 19-14 lead with 11:42 remaining in the quarter.

Key pass interference call on final TD drive. (Ron Morris


On the ensuing kickoff Caleb Legrand would give the Patriots excellent field position after a 27 yard return to their own 46 yard line.  On first down Antwan Watson would rumble 53  yards down to the one yard line.  However, another scoring opportunity was lost on a dead ball foul by the Patriots pushing them back.  A nice touch pass from the five by McPhail into the end zone was dropped by Bryan on fourth down.  The Wildcats would take over from the five yard line.  Suddenly, the Patriots defense with major penetration tackles the QB for a safety making the score 19-16.

WR Trevor Bryan gaining yardage after catch. Brian Morgan blocking. (Ron Morris)

On the kickoff Caleb Legrand would take the ball to the Wildcats 40 on a nice 25 yard return.  After a first down picked up by Antwan Watson, McPhail would find Trevor Bryan for a 19 yard gain to the six.  Watson would pick up 3 yards on first down, then on second down from the 3 yard line he would find a seam and scamper into the end zone giving the Patriots a 23-19 advantage.

On another good drive seemingly heading to the end zone Amarray Green on a nice gain to the outside had the ball stripped away by a Wildcat defender who would return for a TD putting the Wildcats up 26-23 with only 51 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

Patriots Jonathan Stickland finishing off Safety. (Ron Morris)

In the fourth quarter the Patriots would put together the winning drive on key receptions to Trevor Bryan.  A pass into the end zone to Brian Morgan was ruled pass interference.  On the next play QB Luke McPhail would score from the one yard line for ultimately the winning TD putting the Patriots ahead for good 30-26.

The defense played well in the remaining 11 minutes of the game, running back Antwan Watson would dominate making runs of 10, 19 and 11 yards in key situations keeping the clock moving and matriculating the ball down field to run out the clock.




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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran’s affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.