It has been said many times that defense wins ball games — but so do extra points.
Both of these were true Thursday night at Womack Field when the William James Middle School Knights took the field to complete a perfect season and win the Coastal Empire Region Championship with a 14-12 victory over Burke County.
The only thing standing in their way was a large, physical and fast Bears squad. The two teams met during the regular season, with WJMS defeating Burke 20-18 in Waynesboro.
So the stage was set for the championship game kickoff.
Burke County struck first with a 40 yard touchdown pass but subsequently missed the two-point conversion. WJMS responded immediately with Kyon Taylor taking the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to tie up the score. Gage Landing kicked the extra point and WJMS was up 7-6.
Burke did scored again before the half, but again came up short on a conversion, making it 12-7 after two quarters.
Both defenses were very stingy, allowing very little in the second half. With six minutes left in the game, WJMS defender Leslie Black forced a fumble which was recovered by AJ Eason on the Knights' own 37 yard line. The Knight offense drove down the field, with fullback John Proctor getting the ball close to the end zone with a 20 yard run up the middle. With 1:11 left in the game WJMS capped the final scoring drive with a tough run up the middle by Craison Wells. The extra point by Gage Landing was good making the score 14-12 in favor of WJMS.
On the final drive of the game, Burke had the ball almost into Knight territory when quarterback Marshall Flowers’ pass was intercepted by WJMS defender Kery Brinson. With 52 seconds left, it was time for the victory formation. The Knights completed the perfect season and brought home the region trophy.
The WJMS offensive line made up of Mason Brinson, Mathis Lanier, Cole Lindsay, Jaylen Wright and Drew Yawn played exceptionally allowing the offense to drive the ball and not sacrifice field position.
WJMS Offensive Coordinator CJ Lanier said of the win, “It was a very physical and exciting game. We played as a unit and pushed through to victory.”
When asked about how his team completed the perfect season and defeated Burke County twice, WJMS Head Coach Matt Greene responded “It’s a great group of players and coaches. I can’t wait to see them play at Statesboro High. This is a special group.”