For all of his offensive highlights on Friday night, it was a play that Jonathan Scaringe made on defense that lifted Chiles to its first victory against Leon since 2006.
Scaringe, who plays running back and cornerback, grabbed an interception off a tipped ball late in the second quarter, returned it to Leon’s 24-yard line, then connected with quarterback Ben Hatch for a touchdown pass on the very next play. That allowed the Timberwolves some separation in what had been a back-and-forth game and helped them hold off the Lions for a 40-24 win at Cox Stadium.
Chiles coach Mike Lassiter actually had been trying to give Scaringe a break from playing both ways, but with Leon quarterback Sam Williams slicing up the Chiles defense, he turned to his talented junior to make a play.
“The guy’s a sparkplug for us,” Lassiter said. “We tried to let him rest a little bit on defense, but we just had to have him. They were making good plays, so you go to your best players on the field. Him coming up and making that stop, it’s just huge.”
“I was probably more tired celebrating,” added Scaringe.
Chiles (1-2) and Leon (1-2) played to a scoreless first quarter before both offenses erupted for a 48-point second quarter.
From the time Timberwolves kicker Chance Delgado started things off with a 37-yard field goal early in the second, the teams traded seven scores.
Leon’s Williams threw his first two of touchdowns, a 28-yarder to Alvontrez German that gave the Lions a 7-3 advantage. Chiles then countered with a Hatch-to-Scaringe connection.
Keylan Grandison and Hatch each added rushing touchdowns for their respective teams, and Leon kicker Ryan Feely’s 25-yard field goal tied the score at 17 with 2:40 to go in the half.
The Timberwolves then scored 23 points that went unanswered until late in the fourth quarter.
“Turnovers hurt us bad in the first half,” Leon coach Bill Ragans said. “We just couldn’t get any momentum from it. We played hard, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Hatch, a former receiver who stepped in as the starting quarterback this season, finished with 353 yards of offense (250 passing, 103 rushing) and five total touchdowns. Senior receiver Mike Dunn added 117 yards and a touchdown on five receptions, and Jayln Croom ran for 77 yards.
Hatch was in the sixth grade the last time the the Timberwolves beat Leon.
“It’s just finally good to get that win,” he said.
Williams completed 18 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns for Leon, and freshman Kwan Jones hauled in 10 passes for 294 yards and a score.
“He’s part of the youth movement,” Ragans said. “We’ve got a lot of young skill players.”