His team held a halftime lead, but Pace High coach Kent Smith had reason to fume.
Smiles replaced screams the rest of the game.
After struggling for yards and offensive plays, the Patriots expanded a 7-0 lead by reeling off 21 third quarter points on big plays and overpowered Washington High 35-15 on the Wildcats homecoming night at Sherman Robinson Stadium.
Anthony Johnson rushed for 170 yards on 27 carries, scoring three touchdowns and quarterback Damean Bivins hooked up with Cameron Bozeman for a pair of long scoring passes, enabling the Patriots to approach mid-point of the season at 3-1.
“We challenged the offense at halftime to come out and block people and give Anthony a chance and they did, so we had a great second half,” said Smith, in his first year as Pace head coach, after returning to the school, following four seasons at Jay. “When you start running the ball you get them a little unsound where we able to complete some big passes for scores… that’s what it’s all about.”
It was the third straight loss for Washington, after the Wildcats won their opener. They had some moments in the first half, however, to gain a lead or at least tie the game and maybe change the emotional edge.
They had a fourth-down pass from the 15 fail to connect, another drive curtailed by a holding penalty, then had a second down from the Pace 1 late in the second quarter. A touchdown could have tied the game.
Three plays later, however, the Wildcats were still at the 1 after Pace’s defense stuffed three running plays with 4:39 left before halftime.
“That was probably the difference in the game,” Smith said. “It was a downer for Washington and Coach (Charlie) Ward, but when you look back on it that was the difference.”
For Ward, one bit of uplift occurred late in the third quarter when his son, Caleb, a junior receiver, caught his first varsity touchdown pass on a 60-yard play.
“The biggest thing for us is these guys hang in there and get better and I think we will be better,” Ward said. “We did some good things and we got tired at the end, but we still a lot of season left to do some good things.”
The Wildcats are playing with about 30 players dressed out and many of the starters playing both sides. Still, they had that chance to punch it in from the 1 and Pace’s defense got the best of it.
“When you have three plays from the 1, you have to score there. You have to be able to run that in,” Ward said.
Much of the game’s offense was provided by Johnson, the Patriots’ strong-running senior tailback.
Johnson’s scored his first touchdown on a 14-yard run with five seconds left in the first quarter. He scored his next touchdown on the first series of the third quarter, busting tackles and getting free for a 35-yard score.
“We were able to get a hat on a hat (offensive line matching with defensive lineman) and when you do that, Anthony is going to get yards, he’s going to make plays,” Smith said.
The third quarter went so well that Pace scored on the final play even when Smith was trying to stop his team. He was yelling for his offense to let the clock run out, come to the sideline, regather, get a play called and start the fourth quarter.
Instead, amid the confusion, Bivins found Bozeman wide open across the middle of the field, connected with a perfect pass in stride and Bozeman went the distance for a 70 yard touchdown.
“I was trying to let the clock run out,” Smith said. “I thought we had time to hold the ball and let the clock run out then call a play. They didn’t hear me and went ahead and run the play. They stopped for a minute then they ran the play and we felt like we had that play and it worked out well. I don’t know if I ever had that happen before.”
The Wildcats got their second score late in the fourth quarter on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Andre Hunt to Darious Anderson. They converted the two-point play, but Pace recovered the onside kick and ended any suspense.
PACE 35, WASHINGTON 15
AT SHERMAN ROBINSON STADIUM
Pace — 7–0–21–7—35
PACE –– Anthony Johnson 32 yard run (Tony Gibson kick), 0:05
PACE –– Anthony Johnson 34 yard run (Tony Gibson kick), 8:31.
PACE –– Cameron Bozeman 11 yard pass from Damean Bivins (Gibson kick), 2:31.
WASHINGTON — Caleb Ward 60 yard pass from Andre Hunt (Nick Berling kick), 0:42
PACE — Cameron Bozeman 70 yard pass from Damean Bivins (Gibson kick) 0:00.
PACE — Anthony Johnson 1 yard run. (Gibson kick), 5:45
WASHINGTON –– Darius Anderson 27 yard pass from Andre Hunt (Hunt run), 3:40