By Austin Bishop
For nearly three quarters the French Camp Academy offense couldn’t quite solve the Winona Christian School defense on Friday night, but when the damn broke a flood of points ensued.
The homestanding Panthers scored the last 25 points of the game, with 19 of them coming in the fourth quarter — to take a solid 25-7 season-opening win over the Stars of WCS.
“It all happened so quick late in the game,” FCA head coach Nathan Wright said of the outburst. “It wash anybody’s ballgame all the way until our third score. It just snowballed in a hurry. The game was much closer than it looks.”
Winona Christian marched right down the field to take a 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” Wright said. “It was three or four yards at a time in a cloud of dust on that first drive, but our defense kind of grew up throughout the game.”
Wright said the WCS defense manhandled his inexperienced line early, but the second half told a different story.
“Their size really hurt us, but in the second half we kind of figured some things out,” Wright said. “At the end of the game our smaller guys seemed to have a little more energy than their guys and we were able to block them better.”
Senior quarterback Luke McKnight had a solid game, rushing for 95 yard on 22 carries and hitting on 7-of-16 passes for 132 yards. Adonis Clincy rushed for 35 yards on three carries and caught two passes for 49 yards, while Arron Witt had six carries for 24 yards and Corrie Witt had four rushes for 12 yards and three catches for 49 yards. Brooks Warren had one catch for 18 yards and Maher Angalo one catch for 17 yards.
FCA’s first touchdown came in the third quarter as McKnight scored on a 14-yard run to cut the WCS lead to 7-6. The extra point kick was blocked.
Corrie Witt hauled in a 6-yard scoring pass from McKnight to make it 12-7 early in the fourth quarter. The pass for two failed. McKnight then made it 18-7 with a 29-yard scoring strike to Clincy. The final FCA touchdown came on a 75-yard interception return by McKnight. The extra point by Jok Nebk made it 25-7.
Warren had 11 tackles, two assists, a pass deflection, a sack and a tackle for a loss to lead the FCA defense, while Logan Burchfield had five tackles, an assist, a fumble recovery and a tackle for a loss.
Corrie Witt, Arron Witt, and Skylyr Effler had five tackles each for the Panthers, while Nebk recovered a fumble for FCA.
The 1-0 Panthers face a tough test on Friday when they travel to Eupora to take on the Eagles, who opened their season with a 14-7 road win over Water Valley last week.
“There is no doubt it will be a challenge,” Wright said. “We will go over there and show up and see how we do. We are excited about the challenge.”