Franklin Road Academy’s Lance Wilhoite dropped a pair of first-half passes during Friday’s game at district rival Davidson Academy.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound freshman more than made up for it, though.
Wilhoite hauled in a crucial fourth-quarter interception to prevent Davidson Academy from tying or taking a late lead to all but seal FRA’s thrilling 31-28 victory.
“I made a couple mistakes early in the game, and I knew I had to make a big play sooner or later,” Wilhoite said. “That’s what I did; I stepped up to the plate.”
Clinging to a three-point lead with a chance to stretch it to two scores late in the fourth quarter, FRA running back Sam Harvin fumbled inside the opposing 5-yard-line, and Davidson Academy recovered with 3:57 remaining to keep its hopes alive.
Quarterback Kyle Gilbert guided Davidson Academy on a seven-play, 59-yard drive before Wilhoite undercut receiver Eli Breece’s route on a first-down pass, snagging what proved to be the game-clinching interception.
“Our senior class guys are very inspirational,” Wilhoite said. “They helped me through that first half, and kept my head up. I felt I had to make a play.”
Gilbert completed 26 of 34 attempts for 320 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but his late-game interception — one of four Davidson Academy turnovers — proved to be the difference-maker.
“They clearly won the turnover battle tonight,” second-year Davidson Academy coach Jonathan Quinn said. “That’s an outstanding team. They’re fundamentally sound; they’re extremely disciplined; and you can’t lose the turnover battle against a team like that. We knew that going in.”
FRA fumbled on its ensuing possession, too, but Davidson Academy, which took over with less than a minute remaining, simply didn’t have enough time to complete the comeback.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better game,” FRA coach Bill Whittemore said. “It came down to the wire, and obviously it’s a lot sweeter being on this side.”
Larry Wilhoite, Lance’s older brother, finished with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to lead FRA, and he also hauled in a 48-yard first-quarter touchdown reception.
“He’s a heck of a football player,” Whittemore said. “People ask me all the time about our weapons, and I don’t really even think about who’s getting the ball or who is going to get the ball. We’ve got Larry and Sam on both edges, and it just happened to be Larry’s night.”
Harvin finished with 96 yards on 18 carries, while quarterback Spence Jones completed three of eight passes for 58 yards.
“We could have won, and we didn’t because we beat ourselves,” Quinn said. “With that being said, FRA is one of the best teams in the state. We were able to beat BGA this year, and I’m just telling the guys, ‘Hey, you can play against anybody on any Friday night.’ It’s just a matter of playing with better execution.”
Davidson Academy’s Zavy Corcino tallied 17 tackles and a forced fumble for Davidson Academy, while Breece hauled in four receptions for 72 yards and a score.
Reach Michael Murphy at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.