CRAWFORDVILLE – Wakulla’s football team got everything it wanted out of Saturday’s game against Spartanburg (S.C.) on ESPN U.
Everything except a win that is, falling 42-14.
Hitting coastal Highway 98 and seeing J.D. Jones Stadium with a line waiting to get in and War Eagles’ fans tailgating for a rare day game— despite rain— enhanced the atmosphere for an already spirited venue.
But that’s exactly what ESPN wanted when it set its kickoff classic schedule. Although I guess the allure of throwing major college recruits such as Feleipe Franks and Keith Gavin against Clemson commit Tavien Feaster was also desirable.
Feaster it turns out is the real deal. His multi-purpose usage as a runner and receiver was too much too contain.
He scored two rushing touchdowns and caught nine passes for 121 yards and a 42-yard touchdown.
“That guy is amazing,” veteran Wakulla coach Scott Klees said. “We had some perfect calls and he just beat the coverages. He made plays and made them all night. Someone is getting lucky.”
The final score is a little misleading, however, because Wakulla was up 14-13 in the second half when a blocked punt and subsequent 30-yard return for a touchdown flipped momentum.
The War Eagles never recovered and Spartanburg did what any top team in its state should do— gun the engine.
Vikings quarterback Austin Scott was proficient with a wet ball, completing 22 of 31 passes for 365 yards and three second-half touchdown passes.
“We want to play competition and that’s why our schedule is the way it is,” Klees said. “We have one just like this next week, different style of offense but just as tough. For a half, we did unbelievable.
“What got us was the blocked punt. … Just like that, it’s 21-14. They hold, score, and it’s 28-14. We got a way from what we do after that. It was a learning experience, but we know we can play with them.”
Experience and a spotlight. It worked as it was supposed to, even if there were many long days leading up to it.
“It sank in a long time ago,” said Klees, whose press box air conditioning was one of several enhancements.
“We were on conference calls all week. It was a lot of work. Everyone pitched in to get things ready.”
The War Eagles even debuted new charcoal gray uniforms and a different helmet design. It looked great up against Spartanburg’s Navy or Georgia Tech look.
“It felt great to even be able to play on ESPN, and it was my biggest dream, but we did,” said Justin Davis, who made a highlight reel diving catch in the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
I’m guessing Davis will keep that footage for a long time.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” he added. “This was an unbelievable feeling. We came out and did our best. It showed us what we need to work on, but we’ll do good this season.”
SPARTANBURG 42, WAKULLA 14
Spartanburg 7 6 15 14 — 42
Wakulla 7 7 0 0 — 14
W — Demarcus Lindsey 24 run (Feleipe Franks kick)
S — Tavien Feaster 14 run (Will Lawson kick)
W — Justin Davis 30 pass from Franks (Franks kick)
S — Feaster 9 run (kick failed)
S — Jeron Dawkins 30 punt block return (Feaster 2-point pass from Austin Scott)
S — Feaster 42 pass from A. Scott (Lawson kick)
S — Tavaris Scott 5 pass from A. Scott (Lawson kick)
S — Marsalis Wilson 78 pass from A. Scott (Lawson kick)
Passing— Spartanburg, Austin Scott 22-31-365-3-0; Wakulla, Feleipe Franks 8-19-101-1-0
Rushing— Spartanburg, Tavien Feaster 12-56, A. Scott 8-20, Kezman Gilliam 2-5, Eric Rice 1-6; Wakulla, Demarcus Lindsey 15-89, Antonio Morris 3-29, Franks 5-22, Justin Davis 3-8, Monterious Loggins 1-(-3)
Receiving— Spartanburg, Feaster 9-121, Tavaris Scott 8-114, Marsalis Wilson 2-80, Romain Kelly 1-21, Rice 1-11; Wakulla, Davis 2-46, Keith Gavin 5-20, Kelton Donaldson 1-35
Spartanburg (1-0), Wakulla (0-1)
Wakulla vs. Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep in Orlando, Sept. 4, on ESPN U