Since suffering its only loss of the season two weeks ago to Berkeley, the Timberland Wolves have recovered nicely.
In that loss, the Wolves committed nine turnovers — five fumbles and four interceptions. A switch at quarterback has proved beneficial as Timberland won its second straight game since the loss, beating Lake City, 33-0, on Thursday night. The Wolves improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in Region 7-AA.
Timberland has outscored its last two opponents since the loss, 92-14, with no turnovers.
“Certainly to lose a game by one point after having nine turnovers and 160 yards in penalties, that’s a wake-up call for sure,” said Timberland head coach Art Craig. “We’ve been a lot more focused on execution and taking care of the football. When we do that, we are a pretty good football team.”
The change at quarterback involved placing running back Roderick McCray under center, and the senior responded with 134 yards rushing and two touchdowns on Thursday night.
“He gives a senior presence in the huddle and he’s a very capable runner,” said Craig. “He definitely is a key player for us down the stretch.”
Senior defensive back Austin McKinney made the biggest play of the night, wrestling away a pass in the back of the end zone and returning it 109 yards for a touchdown.
According to the state High School League record book, the return tied a state record, matching the effort of Wando’s Cameron Coakley in 2010.
“He had an 85-yard return of an interception last week and there is no question, when he brings his ‘A’ game, he’s one of the top athletes in the state,” said Craig. “That was one of those plays where, as a coach, you are saying no, no, no, but once he gets downfield, you say go, go go.”
Prior to McKinney’s return, McCray gave Timberland a 7-0 lead with an 18-yard first- quarter touchdown run, set up by McKinney’s punt block and recovery on Lake City’s second possession.
The Wolves added a late score in the second quarter on Matt Gabel’s 12-yard fade to Shamel Williams, taking a 20-0 halftime lead.
Timberland’s defense was dominant in the third quarter, allowing the visiting Panthers four offensive snaps while the ground game of Timberland ate up yardage and clock. McCray’s seven-yard run with 18 seconds left in the third made it 27-0.
Third-team quarterback Ryan Hood directed a final scoring drive late in the game, scoring on a one-yard keeper with 2:28 left.
T – Roderick McCray 18 run (Otto Wilson kick)
T – Austin McKinney 109 INT return (kick failed)
T – Matt Gabel 12 pass to Shamel Williams (Wilson kick)
T – McCray 7 run (Wilson kick)
T – Ryan Hood 1 run (kick failed)