Wildcats’ Solomon runs over struggling Indians

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By Steve Waters, Sports Editor

Having three offensive players run for more than 100 yards each is always a good thing.

When the opponent’s running back nearly matches that on only 10 carries? Not so good.

Wildwood’s Desmon Solomon torched Chiefland for 287 yards and three monster touchdowns in the Wildcats 35-25 win against the Indians last Friday in both teams’ District 1A-5 opener. The Indians had more than 365 yards of total offense, yet crucial missed tackles and missteps put the game out of reach.

“We had some breaks, and some breakdowns,” Chiefland coach Ajay Ulmer said.

Even from Wildwood’s first offensive play from scrimmage, it looked like Solomon couldn’t be stopped. After a Chiefland fumble recovered by the Wildwood defense, Solomon took his first carry 65 yards for the score. The extra point was blocked for a 6-0 Wildwood lead.

But unlike last week, in which Chiefland sustained a 48-0 drubbing at the hands of Williston in their annual battle for the Levy Cup, the Indians had some fight in them.

“I don’t know what happened last week,” Ulmer said. “It was like some sort of funk fell over us. That’s not these kids. We practice too hard to play like we did last week.”

And they did play harder. Indians quarterback Eugene Carter returned the ensuing kickoff to the Chiefland 43, and led his team downfield with the help of running backs Jakarr White and Jamantye Thompson. White ran in for a 2-yard touchdown, and the Indians took a 7-6 lead after Garrett Schmidt’s kick.

Thompson, White and Carter were workhorses for the Indians. Thompson finished the game with 124 yards on 19 carries. White finished with 101 yards on 22 carries. Carter picked up 120 rushing yards and finished 7-for-9 passing for 42 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Early in the second, Wildwood threatened to reclaim the lead with a drive down to the Chiefland 1. The Indians’ Clenton Wasson intercepted a pass in the endzone from Wildwood quarterback Scott Hensley to end the push. The Indians’ Thompson capped the drive with a 64-yard run, his biggest of the night. Chiefland soon extended their lead to 14-6 with Carter’s 13-yard run for a score.

But Solomon wasn’t done picking apart Chiefland’s defense. On the ensuing possession, Solomon bolted for an 80-yard touchdown run off a direct snap. The Wildcats’ 2-point attempt was good to tie the game at 14 midway through the second quarter.

Chiefland’s next attempt for a touchdown stalled, and Schmidt kicked an 18-yard field goal to give the Indians a 17-14 lead with 44.4 seconds to go in the half.

Yet again, Solomon responded with a 62-yard touchdown run, his final score of the night, to close the half with a 21-17 Wildwood lead.

Wildwood put the game out of reach in the second half. Wildwood capped two long drives in the third and early fourth quarters with two rushing touchdowns from Hensley for a 35-17 lead.

The Indians staged a late comeback attempt with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Wasson to bring the score to 35-25 after a 2-point conversion. But with less than 4 minutes to go in the game, it was too little, too late for the Indians as Wildwood picked up its first win of the season.

“We’re in a new district, but we’re still the defending district champions,” said second-year Wildwood coach Matt Thompson. “And we wanted to make sure that the road to this year’s district championship goes through Wildwood.”

Despite the loss, Ulmer was encouraged. 

“Our kids came out and fought in the second half, and I felt like they knew the importance of this game,” Ulmer said.

“We didn’t give up, we kept fighting,” he added. “We made a real comeback there. We showed some good character and some good toughness, and 

hopefully we can build on that next week with Trenton.”

And the Indians may have a bit of momentum this Friday against Trenton (1-2, 0-2 in District 1A-5). 

The Tigers were squashed 38-0 against Dixie County last Friday in its district opener. Trenton managed only 81 yards of total offense last week, compared to Dixie County’s 406 yards.