The Warren East football team faced a huge task in Friday’s game against visiting Edmonson County, with senior quarterback Nolan Ford sidelined with a shoulder injury.
The Raiders responded with sophomore Isaiah Ghee under center, leading an offense that came roaring back from a 10-point deficit with big chunk plays to down the Wildcats 28-18.
Warren East (1-2) scored four touchdowns of 47 yards or longer to fuel an offense that finished with 425 total yards.
“We’ve got some really good senior skill guys,” WE coach Jeff Griffith said.
“It’s senior night. I think if you look at who made plays for us tonight – obviously Isaiah played well as a sophomore in his first start – but … a bunch of guys that are seniors (made plays) and that is what we have to have because we are such a young team.”
Edmonson County (1-2) was looking for its first win at Warren East since 1986. The Wildcats looked to be in control for much of the first half, despite losing leading rusher Matthew Shaw early in the second quarter.
Both teams had touchdowns called back due to penalties on their opening drives, with Edmonson County converting on a Clay Walden 25-yard field goal and Warren East’s Kobe Kawaii’s field-goal attempt going wide left.
On the drive following Shaw’s injury, Edmonson County added to the lead with Walden’s 56-yard run setting up a 16-yard touchdown run by Logan Davis that made the score 10-0 with 3:33 left in the half.
The Raiders’ offense finally broke through less than 90 seconds later, with Ghee breaking free for a 47-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 10-7 right before halftime.
“It was great,” Ghee said. “It made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted.”
Ghee struck again midway through the third quarter, connecting with DeSean Gilbert on a 71-yard touchdown reception that gave the Raiders a 14-10 lead.
On the next possession Ghee was intercepted by Walden, who returned it to the Warren East 3 to set up Edmonson County for the potential go-ahead touchdown.
Warren East’s defense would have other plans.
A false start pushed the ball back to the 8 and on the next play Simon Ghee recovered a fumble to give the Raiders the ball back. On the first play after the turnover, KJ Alexander busted through the line for a 92-yard touchdown run to push Warren East’s lead to 21-10 late in the third quarter.
“No question, that was a huge play,” Griffith said. “We get frustrated with our defense sometimes because they give up a third-and-22, but I thought our kids really bowed their neck in that situation.
“We are growing up, slowly but surely.”
Warren East added some insurance in the fourth – as Ghee and Gilbert hooked up again on a 55-yard touchdown pass.
Edmonson County got an Isaiah Johnson run and a two-point conversion with a minute left and recovered the onside kick, but the Raiders stopped the Wildcats at the 1 in the final seconds to secure the victory.
“We made some mistakes,” Edmonson County coach Nathan Smith said.
“I think there are a lot of things on film we are going to see. We had the ball inside the 10-yard line four times and came up with three points. We have to get that fixed. Normally in those situations we would hand the ball to Shaw until he got it. We are going to have to find some guys to step up and I think we found the guys tonight that can run the ball for us and share that load a little bit.”
Ghee finished 8-for-14 passing for 178 yards and added 71 yards rushing.
Alexander ran for 171 yards on 13 carries, while Gilbert had four catches for 142 yards in the win for Warren East.
Jon Smith finished 11-for-16 for 138 yards passing for Edmonson County.
Walden finished with 71 yards rushing, while Johnson had 62 yards rushing and 64 yards receiving for the Wildcats.
Warren East is scheduled to host Warren Central at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Edmonson County is scheduled to play at Monroe County at 7 p.m. Thursday.
ECHS 3 7 0 8 – 18
WEHS 0 7 14 7 – 28
EC – Clay Walden 25 field goal, 6:49
EC – Logan Davis 16 run (Walden kick), 3:33
WE – Isaiah Ghee 47 run (Kobe Kawaii kick), 1:51
WE – DeSean Gilbert 71 pass from Ghee (Kawaii kick), 7:32
WE – KJ Alexander 92 run (Kawaii kick), 1:45
WE – Gilbert 55 pass from Ghee (Kawaii kick), 5:31
EC – Isaiah Johnson 2 run (Johnson pass from Jon Smith), 1:03