LITHIA — Somehow, some way, Wharton High senior running back Jeff Keil continuously slipped and dodged his way through walls of Newsome defenders Friday night.
Knowing his team needed a victory to stay in the playoff hunt, Keil converted one big play after another, finishing with 235 total yards to lead the Wildcats to a 21-20 win at Newsome.
After Bloomingdale’s win against Alonso, Wharton and Plant are the remaining undefeated teams in Class 8A-District 6.
“We came in with a playoff mindset,” said Keil, who rushed for 116 yards and caught seven passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. “We knew we needed to win to stay first in district, and we got it done.”
With 4:02 left in the third quarter, Keil broke a few tackles immediately after catching a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage and scampered down the Wharton sideline to tie the game with a 44-yard touchdown. Tristen Spearringer’s extra point gave Wharton the one-point lead and eventual win.
Wharton senior quarterback Chase Litton completed 15 of 27 passes for 199 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. He also had 32 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Litton’s biggest play of the night, however, didn’t happen with him behind center.
Also the team’s punter, Litton booted the ball inside Newsome’s 5-yard line, and after a short bounce, it was stopped by junior Theo Hyppolite at the 1.
The Wolves could not convert a first down and turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Wildcats to run out the clock at the goal line.
“When I let it go, I knew it was a good punt,” Litton said. “Newsome didn’t blitz that many people, so when I got it off I knew it was good.
“Theo Hyppolite made a good play at the 2- or 3-yard line and that won us the game.”
Wharton 7 7 7 0 — 21
Newsome 3 14 3 0 — 20
W - Litton 20 run (Spearringer kick)
N - Cobb 32 field goal
W - Tolley 18 pass from Litton (Spearringger kick)
N - Preston 1 run (kick failed)
N - Mills 16 pass from Preston (Hempstead run)
N - Cobb 36 field goal
W - Keil 44 pass from Litton (Spearringer kick)