Snow flurries blew into Nunley Stadium on Halloween night, but it was the visiting Cumberland County Jets who got plowed.
The Warren County High School offense had all the tricks, while the Pioneer defense delivered the treat of a rare shutout during a convincing 41-0 victory on senior night.
The win allows WCHS to improve to 4-6, while Cumberland County ends its season at 0-10.
With the game under control midway through the third quarter, much of the attention turned to the weather. Mother Nature didn’t disappoint with gusting winds and snow flurries that brought a chill to the scattered few who remained huddled under blankets in the stands.
The Pioneers jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead, then the defense applied the second-half clamps by forcing three turnovers, including a fumble returned 18 yards for a TD by Tristan Reish. Cornerback Quandre Knowles added an interception he returned down the sideline to the Cumberland County 34-yard line.
Offensively, Pioneer QB Christian Wilkinson was in rhythm with his two senior WRs, Adrian Lusk and Malik Ladet. Wilkinson finished 14-for-27 for 225 yards with Lusk and Ladet accounting for every catch.
Ladet provided the big play threat, making five catches for 127 yards. Lusk made nine grabs for 98 yards.
On the ground, Bryson Lewis churned his way to 67 yards and three TDs. Rickie King and Reish also scored rushing TDs.
With the Pioneer offense operating in high gear, the defense was dominant against the pass-happy Jets. Cumberland County ran the ball 18 times for a mere 34 yards, which might have explained the team’s tendency to take to the air with a rushing average of 1.8 yards per attempt.
Jet QB Jordan Bucker threw the ball 30 times for 101 yards, an average of 3.3 yards per pass attempt.
The Warren County defense was as much a story as the offense. The Pioneer D forced the Jets to turn the ball over on downs six times and created four turnovers.
Brendon Breedlove helped set the tone early with a crushing hit on fourth-and-one that prevented Cumberland County from getting a first down. That was followed by the Pioneer defense converging on the punter when the Jets turned to their book of tricks and tried a fake punt.
Chayse Frye had a sack and forced fumble late in the first half to stop a drive that could have given Cumberland County momentum heading into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Kenny Dillard continued the Cumberland County frustration when he stripped the ball from the punt returner and it was pounced on by the Pioneer defense.
Warren County started the scoring with 3:24 left in the first quarter. A 24-yard reception by Ladet was the key play of a drive that ended when Lewis darted into the endzone from three yards out for the game’s first TD.
Ladet made his second huge catch on the next Pioneer drive, a 46-yarder down the sideline. Lewis took it in from there for his second TD, but a bobbled snap on the extra point left the score 13-0.
Warren County would get its next TD after tackling the Cumberland County punter as he tried to run for a first down from punt formation. That gave the Pioneers the ball at midfield with Wilkinson doing most of the damage through the air.
Wilkinson connected on a pass to Lusk on third-and-14 with Lusk stretching as far as he could and trying to reach the ball over the goal line. He came close, but the ball was marked at the 1. Reish scored two plays later by bulling his way through the pile.
The extra point made it 20-0 at the half.
Warren County used a short field after Cumberland County turned the ball over on downs to score with 5:26 left in the third. The Pioneers were aided by two penalties on the Jet defense with Rickie King ending the drive with a 1-yard TD. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score 26-0.
Momentum from the Dillard stripped punt helped Warren County reach the endzone early in the fourth quarter. A 21-yard run from Lewis was the biggest play of the drive, a drive he capped with a 1-yard TD. Ladet took a jet sweep for the two-point conversion to make it 34-0.
Reish accounted for the final Pioneer points when Jet tailback Nolan McClain tried to do a little too much with the ball. McClain caught a pass and tried to spin away from a tackler, but he ended up losing the football. It came to rest at the 18-yard line where Reish scooped it up and raced untouched into the endzone. The extra point made it 41-0.