WELLBORN — The meaning of costly mistakes was a lesson Wellborn learned on Friday night.
No. 3 Fyffe defeated the sixth-ranked Panthers, 33-19, after two Wellborn turnovers and several penalties affected the swing of the fourth quarter.
“We just went out there, did some things, got some penalties and made some mistakes that we normally don’t do,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “When you do those things against a good football team, you do what we did tonight, and that’s get beat.”
Wellborn (4-1) got the ball with 3:10 remaining in the game after a controversial Fyffe touchdown gave the Red Devils (5-0) a 27-19 lead. After a personal foul on Robert Tucker pushed the Panthers back to their own 17-yard line, quarterback Judd Smith made a major mistake.
Rolling out to the left, Smith threw the ball straight to Fyffe defensive back Trent Thrash, who returned the ball 25 yards for the score.
“That was big interception Trent made,” said Fyffe coach Paul Benefield. “We were just eight (points) ahead there when he made that and ran it down. That was huge.”
On the ensuing drive with almost all hope gone, Tucker fumbled the ball after a 12-yard completion from Smith that put the Red Devils in victory formation.
“Yeah, we made some mistakes,” Smith said. “It cost it.”
However, Smith said the fourth-quarter mistakes aren’t what cost Wellborn the game.
“We could go in there and pick out 10 plays that made a difference in the game,” he said. “Every offensive play that we call is meant to score, and if we don’t score, there’s a breakdown somewhere. Every defense that we call is meant to stop them at the line of scrimmage, so if they have any positive yards, there’s a breakdown somewhere.”
In a 13-13 game, Fyffe struck almost immediately in the second half as Thrash danced around to avoid defenders in the backfield before running 50 yards for what ended up being the game-winning score.
“We knew it was going to be a slugfest,” Smith said. “My hat’s off to Fyffe. I think they came out here and out-hit us and beat us fair and square.”
Despite the complexity of Wellborn’s 16-play, 66-yard ensuing drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock, it was what happened after Kevin Mixon scored that mattered the most.
Mixon took the reverse from Chantz Goodman into the end zone from five yards out, but Wellborn was called for a personal foul after the play. The 15-yard penalty made the extra point that would tie the game a 35-yard kick.
“We didn’t think we could make it from where we were at,” Smith said.
On the two-point conversation attempt, Smith’s throw into the end zone was batted down.
“I could have done a better job,” Smith said. “We could have gotten them better prepared this week, more prepared this week and more focused this week. What we have to do is think about how we felt last week, think about how we feel this week and go out next week and correct the mistakes.”
Fyffe was led on the ground by Randy Blackwell, who rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 19 rushes. Along with his interceptions for a score, Thrash added 12 rushes for 82 yards. Quarterback Cameron Gipson finished the night 2-3 with 41 yards and an interception.
Goodman led the Panthers with 97 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushes. Mixon added 49 yards and a rushing score of his own along with a 28-yard reception for a touchdown. Smith finished the night 3-for-8 for 51 yards, a score and an interception. Jared Vera and Devron Traylor both recorded interceptions.