An 8-yard run by Wellborn’s Delrickus Rhoden with 3:12 left got his team within one point of a tie and two points of the lead. When Wellborn, which had consistently gained yardage out of its Notre Dame box all night, lined up in the box for a 2-point conversion, Clay County coach Kris Herron called a timeout to settle his defense.
When play resumed, the direct snap went to Rhoden. He started toward the right but Clay County’s surge had pushed a Wellborn lineman back into Rhoden’s path, almost knocking him off his feet. Rhoden regained his balance and headed for the right corner but was swarmed along the visitors’ sideline before he reached the goal line.
“I’m proud for them making that play on the 2-point conversion,” Herron said. “That’s just the guys’ desire and want-to and believing in each other.”
Wellborn’s defense limited Clay County to 162 yards of total offense, 156 yards rushing, and one offensive touchdown. Clay County netted 61 yards in the second half, all on the ground, and three first downs. Fifty second-half yards came on one play that ended in a lost fumble by quarterback Shawncey Simmons at the Wellborn 10-yard line.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of heart and a lot of guts and I’m proud to be associated with them,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “We played well enough to win. Now we have to get ready for Handley.”
With Leeds and Handley likely to finish No. 1 and No. 2 in the Class 3A, Region 3 race, Clay County (4-3, 3-2) and Wellborn (5-2, 3-2) entered their game knowing the winner would gain an advantage in postseason positioning for the No. 3 spot. Should Clay County and Wellborn each finish region play with identical region records, Clay County now holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
“That was a big game region-wise for us,” Herron said. “Now we’ve got Marbury next week. We control our destiny. To have two losses in our region and still control our destiny, that’s pretty good.”
The halftime score was 6-all. Clay County broke that tie with a defensive touchdown. After recovering Simmons’ fumble at its 10, Wellborn put together three first downs and was looking for a fourth on a fourth-and-two play from the Clay County 41. The direct snap to Rhoden was a little high. As the ball slipped out of his hands, it landed on his helmet and bounced away. Already closing on Rhoden from the left side of the Wellborn line, Simmons scooped up the ball at midfield and returned it untouched for his second touchdown of the game with 6:17 left in the third quarter. Simmons then kicked the all-important extra point.
“I just had to get it and go score,” Simmons said. “I just read my keys. I knew it was going to be a run play away from me. I saw it bounce off his helmet. I knew I had to score because Wellborn’s defense was playing so good.”
Clay County’s best scoring opportunity in the second half followed a 39-yard punt return by speedster Lamar Jones to the Wellborn 28. Five running plays produced two first downs and a first-and-goal at the 7. On third from the 2, Wellborn’s Shawn Boshell dropped Simmons for an 11-yard loss. Brandon Woodard tipped away a pass in the end zone on fourth down.
After the defensive stop, Wellborn moved 87 yards in 10 plays for Rhoden’s second touchdown. Rhoden ran the ball on eight of the 10 snaps and threw a pass that was dropped on another.
Trailing 13-12, Wellborn denied Clay County a first down but used up its timeouts. Clay County’s Jamari Staples got off a 32-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Wellborn 45 with 2:06 left.
Jones broke up a pass on first down. Wellborn quarterback Judd Smith followed with a 6-yard safety valve completion to Dalton Carroll but on third down Michael Howard broke through Wellborn’s pass protection and dropped Smith for a 12-yard loss. A fourth down pass was incomplete and Simmons took a knee twice to run out the clock.
Simmons opened the scoring on a 22-yard run with 8:14 left in the second quarter. The drive covered 82 yards in 13 plays, all on the ground, but Simmons missed the extra point. It looked for a while as if that would be the halftime score but Rhoden apparently had other ideas.
With just under four minutes left in the half, he broke a 25-yard run to get Wellborn to midfield. Five more running plays netted 13 yards. From the Clay County 37, Rhoden completed a 31-yard halfback pass to a wide-open Dalton Screws. From the 6, Rhoden took the next snap through the line at right tackle and scored. The hold on the extra point never got down and the score remained 6-all.
Wellborn rushed for 198 yards and passed for 63. Rhoden netted 187 yards rushing on 35 carries to go with his two touchdowns. Simmons ran 19 times for a net of 108 yards for Clay County.