Wellborn lost to No. 1 Leeds 27-3 Friday night, but the score was not indicative of how hard fought the game really was.
“I think we can play with anybody in the state,” Wellborn coach Jeff Smith said. “I think Leeds had a good football team. They are exceptionally good on defense and have great team speed.
“We are going to go back to work, and we’re going to regroup and get better next week.”
It was obvious from the get go that Wellborn was not intimidated by a Leeds squad that held a significant size advantage over the Panthers.
Wellborn’s Dalton Carroll and Delrickus Rhoden split carries on the Panthers’ first possession.
The duo drove the ball 55 yards down the field, but Leeds’ defense stepped up — as it would all night — when it mattered most.
Rhoden picked up three yards on first down from the Green Wave 24-yard line, but that would be as far as the Panthers would get. Leeds held Wellborn to no gain on the next three plays to force a turnover on downs.
On Leeds opening drive, the Green Wave picked up a first down, but Wellborn’s defense stiffened, forcing a punt.
If the Panthers didn’t already have the all the momentum on their sideline, they certainly did after Shawn Boshell blocked the kick, setting Wellborn up at the 14-yard line.
The Panthers carried the ball inside the Green Wave 5-yard line, but once again stalled, failing to put much needed points on the board.
“We had two scoring opportunities early on, and we weren’t able to capitalize on them,” Smith said. “I think that really hurt us.”
Wellborn (3-1, 2-1) played good defense all night long — with the exception of two plays in the second quarter.
The Panthers may have come up with a big special teams play, but Leeds wouldn’t be outdone. After Wellborn went three-and-out on their next drive, the Green Wave came close to blocking a punt of their own.
The pressure forced a short kick that Dedrick Forsysthe fielded on a bounce. The Panthers’ coverage was out of position and Forsysthe took it to the house from 40 yards out with 9:09 left in the second quarter.
Auburn commit Jonathan Rose proved why he is heading to the Plains next year, scoring twice to close out the half.
On the Green Wave’s next drive, Rose came in motion from his wide receiver spot, took a handoff from quarterback Shane McGinnis on a jet sweep, found a hole and used his speed to cruise 44 yards in the end zone.
After a Wellborn fumble gave the Green Wave good field position with time winding down, Rose scored again on a 22-yard touchdown catch from McGinnis that put the Green Wave up 20-0 heading into the locker room.
“He is an SEC football player,” Smith said of Rose.
Wellborn played exceptionally well on defense in the second half, holding Leeds to only one touchdown, which was set up by a fumbled exchange from quarterback Judd Smith and Rhoden.
Forsysthe scored a play later from 12-yards out.
Wellborn reached the red zone once more late in the third quarter but had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Rhoden, who also finished with 113 yards on 23 carries.