Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that both rushing touchdowns by Victory Christian were scored by senior running back Lee Yeager. The previous version of the story incorrectly attributed each scoring play to a different Lion.
ALPINE -- Victory Christian’s football team might be young, but for the third week in a row, these Lions were homecoming kings.
The Lions battled through an early blocked punt and several second-half penalties to stun Class 1A, Region 5 foe Winterboro 21-14 for Victory’s first win over the Bulldogs in the program’s history.
“They’re giving it everything they’ve got,” Victory head coach Bruce Breland said. “We do make some mistakes and we shoot ourselves in the foot. Those things are usually very hard to overcome, but tonight, we overcame them.
“We’re not taking anything at all away from Winterboro. Good grief, they’re a great football team.
“It was a war. Both sides left everything on the field. Our guys, sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, but we made enough plays tonight … We made big plays at the right time.”
Victory extended its winning streak to three -- with all three coinciding with homecoming weeks. The Lions won their homecoming game against Ragland 21-19 in Week 4, then throttled Coosa Christian 67-38 to spoil the Conquerors’ week of festivities.
Victory freshman quarterback Dalton Lewellyn made two critical fourth-quarter plays that iced the contest.
Lewellyn, playing safety, picked off a pass by Winterboro senior quarterback Isaiah Holland and returned it 28 yards for the go-ahead score with 10:08 to play. On the subsequent two-point conversion attempt, Lewellyn rolled to the left and found tight end Pate Cheatwood in the end zone.
After Winterboro turned the ball over on downs at the Victory 28-yard line with just under three minutes to play, the Lions were able to bleed away the remaining clock after Lewellyn picked up a first down with a 13-yard run on a third-and-3 inside their own territory.
“It’s huge (for his development), particularly at that position,” Breland said of his young signal-caller. “Confidence is critical anywhere, but at the quarterback position, you have to have the confidence in yourself and confidence in your teammates.
“You can see him growing every ballgame he plays in, and not just because he made a play … growing as far as leadership goes and expectations of the guys that are around him.”
Winterboro head coach Alan Beckett said the momentum began to shift when the Bulldogs took a 14-13 edge into the intermission.
The Bulldogs were mere inches from adding a touchdown from Holland, who scrambled down the field on the final play of the half, bounced off several Lions at the Victory 12 and rumbled to the goal line, where he was denied a touchdown.
“I think if we go in with that score, it swings the momentum and it’s a whole different ballgame,” Beckett said. “It was a heckuva run, a gutsy run. Isaiah had several of them.
“He got a little winded on that last drive, and we ended up doing some different things. Of course, we had the penalties, so we had to throw. (Otherwise), we were going to continue to run with him.”
Five to know
- After a scoreless first quarter, Winterboro drew first blood in the second stanza with a 1-yard touchdown run by Holland. Brody Hamm missed the extra point to leave the score at 6-0. Holland ended his night 11 of 19 passing for 123 yards, one touchdown and interception, while adding 155 yards on the ground on 15 carries with a touchdown and a fumble.
- The Lions answered with a touchdown drive of their own when senior running back Lee Yeager scored on a 6-yard run. Yeager booted the extra point to put Victory ahead 7-6.
- Victory’s only penalty of the first half, a pass interference call, set up Winterboro’s second touchdown -- a 49-yard scoring strike from Holland to wide receiver Kameron Edwards.
- The Lions were able to add another score before the break on a 8-yard run by Yeager. Yeager’s extra point was no good.
- Both the Lions and Bulldogs were dealt a serious injury blow in the second half of the contest. Victory lost Yeager to a shoulder injury, while Winterboro senior running back Marquez Curry was helped off the field after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury. He had spent the offseason recovering from a torn ACL. The statuses of both players were not known at the conclusion of the contest.
- Breland on the remaining slate of region games: “Going into those three games, particularly the next two -- we’re not overlooking (Talladega County Central) in any means -- we’re just knowing we’ve got to come out and play ball. We’ve got Spring Garden and we’ve got Donoho. I just want to see our guys play hard and compete. As long as our guys do that, that’s all I can ask of them. We’re getting better at doing those kinds of things, and I’m very proud of them.”
- Beckett on the loss: “Credit to Coach Breland and credit to Victory. I thought they had a good game plan for us. They tried to box us in and made sure we couldn’t get outside. We were able to run the inside like we’ve been able to run, but we had some turnovers that didn’t help us. I thought we had the game going the way we wanted it, but we got really uptight just because Victory was tight with us.”
- Victory (4-2, 2-1) will travel to Spring Garden for region action next Friday night at 7.
- Winterboro (4-3, 1-3) will host region foe Appalachian (6-1, 3-0) Thursday at 6 p.m.