LITHIA — Every team that plays Wharton has to game-plan for Chase Litton and the Wildcats' passing attack. They even have to account for the deceptively quick senior signal caller's running ability when he breaks contain. But Litton demonstrated he has another trick in his bag Friday night against Newsome.
"I'm obviously not a punter," Litton said. "But when my team asks me to do something, I'm going to do it."
Litton's pooch punt pinned Newsome at its 1-yard line with just less than three minutes to play and the Wharton defense stood up as the visiting Wildcats defeated the Wolves 21-20.
The win moved the Wildcats, winners of their past four, into a tie at 2-0 atop 6A-8 with Plant and improved Wharton to 5-1 overall.
"We came in with a playoff mind-set," said Wharton running back Jeff Keil (seven catches, 117 yards and 14 rushes, 111 yards) . "We knew we had to get the win to stay first in districts, and we got it done."
Litton finished 15-of-27 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed eight times for 37 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
But it was Litton's punt that sealed the deal. Nursing a one-point lead, Litton dropped a punt inside the Wolves' 5-yard line that Theo Hyppolite downed at the 1. The Wolves (3-3, 1-1) eventually turned it over on downs and Wharton ran out the clock.
Newsome quarterback Spencer Preston trimmed the lead to 14-9 with a second-quarter 1-yard touchdown run then found Tyson Mills with a 16-yard touchdown on the last play from scrimmage in the first half. Travis Hempstead (20 rushes, 131 yards) then converted the two-point try to give the Wolves a 17-14 halftime lead.
Austin Cobb's 36-yard field goal with 5:41 left in the third quarter, his second of the night, extended the Newsome lead to 20-14, but Litton connected on a 43-yard catch and run touchdown to Keil on the Wildcats' next possession to take the lead for good.
"That was something we observed midgame," Keil said. "We saw when a slant went across the middle, the linebacker would blitz or pick up the slant and leave me wide open in the flat. It worked to perfection."