By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The previous weekend NCAA coaches like Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen gave credit to their players after big wins over Alabama and Texas A&M respectively.
Those victories Oct. 4 moved the pair of Magnolia State teams to No. 3 in the nation. Closer to home, Bolton Wildcats Head Coach Patrick Knight has been working with his young team, keeping them focused in the midst of a 1-5 start.
The lesson learned from the adversity and transition from the Wing-T to a more Spread offense paid off Friday night in Brighton with the Wildcats outlasting the Cardinals 28-20.
“All the coaches talk about on the sidelines on Saturday, ‘You’re happy for the young men,’” Knight said. “And you are, they play the game. So you want the men to win the game and share in that experience. I’m glad for them.”
The Bolton players left the gridiron in Tipton County with smiles. The process toward victory started when Wildcat defensive back Kendall Hatley picked off a pass early in the first quarter.
Brighton (2-5) held Bolton out of the end zone forcing a field goal try. The Wildcats fumbled the ball before the try and the game remained scoreless.
Bolton (2-5) got a break on special team this team when Brighton snapped the ball over the punter’s head. The Wildcats had the ball at the 16-yard line.
On the next play Wildcat Braylon Porter broke loose for a touchdown run giving Bolton a 6-0 lead with 6 minutes and 59 seconds left in the opening quarter.
The Cardinals took the lead before the first quarter ended courtesy of an Austin Kelly to Breeland Austin 15-yard TD pass.
The first quarter ended with Brighton ahead 7-6. The Wildcats scored the only touchdown in the second quarter when Bolton quarterback Trey Lanfair dropped back and hit a leaping Johnathan Frazier down field.
Frazier was able to avoid one tackle and raced to the end zone for a 79-yard touchdown. Bolton used some creativity on the two-point conversation to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room.
Early in the third quarter the Wildcats got the ball on a mission. Knight used the trio of Lanfair, Porter and Devante Williams to march the ball down field.
With a minute and 28 seconds left in the third, Porter rewarded the Bolton offense with a 1-yard TD run and made the score 21-7.
“Crucial drive there,” Knight noted. “That’s what we wanted to be as a team. We didn’t want to give the other team much chances to touch the ball. We wanted to be able to take the football and drive it the length of the field to be able to score.
Another Bolton drive in the fourth quarter produced a Williams 7-yard touchdown with slightly more than 3 minutes left.
Then Brighton got a spark when running back Malik Matthews made a big kickoff return to the 14-yard line.
With the rain starting to come down, the Cardinals poured points on the scoreboard starting with a Kelly touchdown pass to make the score 28-14 with 2 minutes and 48 second left.
Then Brighton’s other Austin, kicker Austin Chapman, executed an onside kick the Cardinals recovered.
Kelly followed with a 39-yard pass down field to Breeland Austin. On the next play Matthews sprinted into the end zone from 6 yards out to make the score 28-20 with slightly more than 2 minutes left on the clock.
Bolton was able to recover the next onside kick. The Wildcats needed a few first downs to ice the victory. Bolton was able to achieve that and earn the win.
“The Good Lord helped us I guess,” Knight concluded. “They regrouped. Football is a game of emotions. They got on their heels a little. But they caught themselves. The offense made a lot of big first downs and kept the ball moving. That helped.”