WEAVER — At times, Weaver just needs running back Shamar Spinks. Then Robert Gaines and Amardric Elston make plays.
Gaines’ 3-yard touchdown pass to Elston and Gaines’ conversion run with 2:20 to play made the different, and Weaver outlasted Wellborn 30-29 in Friday’s key 3A, Region 6 game at Bill Bryan Stadium.
In a region that features the state’s top-three-ranked teams in Randolph County, Saks and Piedmont, the Weaver-Wellborn game could determine the final of four playoff spots.
“This region is the toughest region,” said Weaver coach Daryl Hamby, whose team upped to 2-0 overall, 1-0 in Region 6. “There’re two teams going home in this region that shouldn’t be going home. That’s what’s sad about it.”
Wellborn coach Jeff Smith takes the long view.
“It’s the first one,” said Smith, whose team fell to 2-1, 0-1. “We’ve got to go to game two.”
Wellborn plays host to Saks next week. Weaver goes to Pleasant Valley.
Spinks paced Weaver on Friday with 189 yards on 20 rushes, including touchdown runs of 14, 10 and 7 yards. He ran for 59 yards on the drive leading to Weaver’s game-winning score.
On third-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Gaines looked left and lofted a jump ball for the 6-foot-6 Elston in the back of the end zone.
“He threw it, and I just made to make the catch,” Elston said.
That left Hamby a decision, with his team down 29-28 and 2:20 to play. He chose to go for the two-point conversion and the win.
“They outplayed us,” he said. “We weren’t going to stop them. We were tired. Some of my best players were cramping. It really was a no-brainer.
“We had to go for it. We were never going to outlast them. … We are lucky to win this game.”
Hamby sent Gaines running right with a run-pass option. He kept the ball and fought his way to the end zone for the decisive points.
“It was the same play we ran against Plainview,” Gaines said, referring to Weaver’s playoff victory last season. “It’s the same exact play, but, instead of throwing it to Shamar, I just ran it.
“I saw an open hole and just ran it.”
Wellborn had one final possession, starting from its 20-yard line, but Weaver defensive ends Isaiah Woods and Caleb Allison took over. Wellborn quarterback Jett Smith suffered a first-down sack, had to sit out a play because his helmet came off, returned for another sack then saw Spinks intercept his desperation fourth-down pass.
Wellborn outgained Weaver 296 total yards to 234. Running back Calvin Spinks had 100 yards on 13 carries, and Kentrez Hunt rushed for scores of one, five and five yards.
Jett Smith rushed for a 3-yard touchdown and threw a two-point conversion pass. He also hit on passes of 75 and 40 yards to Logan Hill to set up two Wellborn scores.
The Panthers had leads of 6-0, 14-7, 22-15 and 29-22. Weaver kept answering.
“They just out-athleted us at the end,” Jeff Smith said. “They had a few more playmakers than we did, and they just got it in there at the end.
“As far as our conditioning and toughness, it was great.”