Wildcat QB Tristan Lewis shines --
LEBANON – Talk about a stealing the spotlight.
In a game that was billed as a showdown between stellar tailbacks, Wilson Central's Tristan Lewis emerged as the X-factor in the Wildcats' 21-17 victory Thursday at Tribble Field / Watkins Stadium.
The senior quarterback utilized his feet as well as his arm in leading his team to win over the Blue Devils for a second consecutive season – pushing the 'Cats to a 12-8 advantage in the all-time series between the two Wilson County programs and locking up a postseason playoff spot.
Keeping his team ahead of the chains, Lewis ran 17 times for 91 yards and scored touchdowns on two short carries. He also completed 8-of-13 passes for 99 yards and averaged 37.5 yards on four punts.
While Lebanon defenders focused their attention to WCHS tailbacks Zavier Ali and TJ Hatchett, Lewis ran effectively on quarterback sweeps and keeps off a zone-read look.
“Running him (Lewis) was part of our plan coming in,” said WCHS coach Brad Dedman. “We knew Ali was going to draw a lot of attention, CJ too. We haven't done a lot of that (running Lewis) so far this season. Tristan played really well, moving the chains. He ducked his shoulder and hit the holes.
“We thought our offensive line was bigger than Lebanon's front,” Dedman said, “and we leaned on 'em a little bit. Our guys up front did a heck of a job up front.”
Wilson Central chewed up 8:17 of the first quarter after taking the opening kickoff and driving 76 yards on 14 plays, including a four down and one conversion by Lewis near midfield on the quarterback “stretch”.
Lewis ended the drive with a two-yard run to hand his squad a 7-0 lead with just 3:43 remaining in the opening period.
Lebanon had to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Sean Redmon early in the second quarter after a holding penalty negated a touchdown run by Dequantay Shannon.
The Blue Devils took a brief 10-7 lead later in the second quarter as Jaylen Abston connected with Shannon for a 28-yard touchdown pass on the final play of a 7-play, 84 yard drive.
Wilson Central came right back with a 7-play, 78-yard drive and tallied with :29 seconds left in the half as Lewis scored his second touchdown – allowing the Wildcats to take a 14-10 lead into intermission.
Lebanon's final lead came with 8:40 remaining in the third quarter as Abston found Kemontez Logue for a 37-yard catch and run. The TD and PAT by Sean Redmon gave the Blue Devils a 17-14 advantage.
Central's Hatchett returned the ensuing kickoff some 49-yards, setting the Wildcats up in business at the LHS 34.
Five plays later Ali crashed in from the one for a 21-17 Central lead at the 6:55 mark of the third.
Lebanon punted over to the Wildcats late in the fourth quarter with a little over five minutes remaining. Central proceeded to hold the ball the rest of the game, converting another fourth down along the way.
“We took some bad angles on defense and didn't pad up like we needed to,” Lebanon coach Chuck Gentry said, “and some of that's on them (Wilson Central) – they're good. We didn't play good enough all night, all the way through, in all three phases of the game.
“I'm pointing the finger at me. When it gets this late in the season, you've got to execute and we didn't execute well enough to win the football game.”
Wilson Central piled up 358 yards and 15 first downs on 62 offensive snaps. Some 259 came on the ground as the Wildcats averaged a little over 5 yards per rush.
Lebanon finished with 242 yards from scrimmage on 44 plays, 109 on the ground and 133 through the air..
Central turned the ball over twice on fumbles with Fisher Bradshaw and Jesse Montgomery recovering. Miguel Padilla recovered a Lebanon fumble.
Individually, Wilson Central's Ali ran 21 times for an even 100 yards.
Ezra Widelock caught four passes for 91 yards.
Lebanon's Shannon managed 74 yards on 14 attempts and scored the 51st touchdown of his career on a pass second quarter pass.
Abston completed 12-of-21 passes and threw for two touchdowns with no interceptions. His top receivers were Logue with four receptions for 50 yards and Will Seats with three catches for 32.
With the win, Wilson Central improved to 5-4 on the season and 2-2 in Region 4,6A while LHS slipped to 5-4, 1-3.
The Wildcats are scheduled to close out the regular season at home Oct. 30 versus Station Camp.
Lebanon will entertain Rossview the same night.