09/11/11 — Whitley's TD run aids comeback

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Whitley's TD run aids comeback

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 11, 2011 12:05 AM

Its collective back against the wall, Rosewood turned in "the drive" of the season and benefited from a little yellow hanky on Friday evening.

Shane Whitley's 8-yard scamper helped secure the Eagles' edge-of-your-seat, 46-43 thriller over North Stokes before a partisan crowd at Branch Pope Field.

Rosewood (3-1 overall) claimed its third consecutive non-conference victory of the season and fourth straight since 2010. It's the Eagles' best start with fifth-year head coach Robert Britt.

Trailing 43-40 with 10 minutes left in regulation, senior quarterback Taylor McGill orchestrated the Eagles' most-impressive drive of the season. Six consecutive running plays, including a 23-yard outburst by Shaquan Taylor, moved Rosewood into North Stokes territory.

On third-and-18, McGill rolled out and fired a 13-yard strike to Will Winslow who bullied his way to the Vikings' 30-yard line. Facing five more yards and perhaps its final offensive play of the night, McGill and Winslow combined for an unbelievable first-down completion.

North Stokes linebacker Seth Boyette, who had a pick six in the opening quarter, drilled McGill just as he released the ball. Winslow somehow hauled in the wobbly pass for a first down at the Vikings' 18.

"I trusted in Taylor," said Winslow. "I just caught the ball. Oh my gosh, I was so dead and tired, but our offense kept pushing with guys cramping left and right."

Five plays later, Whitley ended the 65-yard, seven-plus minute possession with his touchdown run.

"That was the best team effort I've ever seen, we all came together through thick and thin (on that drive)," said McGill. "The O-line just gave me great protection all night and you couldn't ask for more."

The Vikings weren't done.

North Stokes (3-1) recovered the onsides kick and quarterback Garrett Wood intentionally grounded the ball on the next play. Down by a field goal, the Vikings dug into their bag of tricks. Wood took the snap, flipped the ball to Matthew Hopkins, who in turn connected with a wide-open Dustin Smith on a 60-yard touchdown pass.

But a yellow hanky dirtied up the field.

The Vikings drew a holding penalty on the play and couldn't recover. Two more penalties pushed North Stokes back to its 15-yard line, and Wood was sacked by Taylor and McGill on fourth down.

"An untimely penalty," said Vikings head coach Jason Lippard. "We got what we wanted, got the ball back with plenty of time and knew we could move it (downfield). We got the situation dialed up and hit it.

"It was our ace in the hole if we needed it."

The Vikings were trumped instead.

The teams combined to convert 14 of 24 offensive possessions into either a field goal or touchdown in the three-hour affair. North Stokes amassed 338 yards of total offense, while Rosewood churned out 481 yards.

Each team ran 58 offensive plays.

The Eagles' Jamari McGown led all rushers with 137 yards and three touchdowns on 16 totes. McGill completed five of six passes for 70 yards, including a 7-yard scoring toss to TJ Frost in the second quarter.

Winslow hauled in four passes for 63 yards.