By JOEL McNEECE
A pair of backup quarterbacks stepped up for Calhoun City Friday night as the Wildcats defeated Okolona 27-7 in the final regular season home game.
Starting QB Tae Lawrence played defense, but was unable to play QB after suffering a throwing hand injury in last week's win over Walnut. Freshman Chakel Gates and Junior Trey Brownlee split time at the position and proved effective.
The Wildcats only passed four times in the game, but completed all four – two by each quarterback.
Both of Brownlee's completions went for scores – 24 and 49-yard passes to Tavion Primer.
Gates was most effective on the ground, rushing for 144 yards on 14 carries.
“Our quarterbacks did what we asked them to do – protect the football,” Calhoun City Coach Perry Liles said. “They’ve been productive all year no matter who we’ve had back there.”
Liles said Lawrence will return as the starter as soon as he’s ready, but couldn’t project when that may be, but his absence under center isn’t a negative for the team.
“Tae’s injury has really allowed others to step up and allow for us to get confidence in them,” Liles said.
Okolona's lone touchdown came on the opening possession of the game when they drove 55 yards for the score. It was all Wildcats after that.
“After the first series I thought we played really well,” Liles said. “Okolona has some good players, so I’m not taking anything away from them. I just didn’t think we were focused like we should have been at the start of the game.”
Brownlee's first scoring strike to Primer tied the game at seven and Lavarious Varnado put the 'Cats in front for good with a 25-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Gates opened the second half with a 7-yard touchdown run before Brownlee's second touchdown pass to Primer.
Cartin McBride led the defense with 12 tackles. Raheem Roberson and Tabarrius Coffey each had seven, including a sack for Coffey.
The Wildcats, ranked second in Class 2A by the Associated Press, improved to 8-1 overall. They travel to Hatley this Friday.