WARRENTON — The Screaming Devils of Warren County High School entered Friday night's football game against the Fighting Irish of Aquinas knowing that they needed not only a win over the 7-2 Augusta school, but a good deal of luck if they were to make the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.
Warren County's postseason hopes also rested upon Twiggs County upsetting Washington-Wilkes for their first win of the season.
As reports trickled in from across the region, it quickly became apparent that Washington-Wilkes would have no problem handling Twiggs County and that Warren County would be playing for nothing but pride on Senior Night.
The Screaming Devils prevailed 28-21.
The week also marked the first full week back for coach David Daniel since the Hancock Central game. Daniel developed his defensive game plan around stopping junior running back Brendan Douglas of the Irish.
Douglas looked as if he was headed to another big night in the early going as he rumbled for a 36-yard touchdown with 6:05 to go in the first quarter. The extra point was good and Aquinas led 7-0.
Douglas added another touchdown in the second quarter with a 2-yard run to extend the lead for Aquinas to 14 after the extra point. The score was the last for Douglas as Warren County's game plan of shutting down the Irish running game began to fall into place.
Just when it looked as though Aquinas was on the way to only its fifth victory in school history over Warren County, the Screaming Devils' offense came alive. With time winding down in the first half, Jabari Wilson stepped in as quarterback for Warren County and connected with Ed'Ricus Williams for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds to go in the half. The extra point attempt was no good and the Screaming Devils went to the locker room down by 8.
With the running attack proving ineffective, the Irish went to the air in the third quarter. After completing a long pass down the sidelines, Grey Klosinski went to the air again for the Irish and completed a 10-yard pass to the corner of the endzone. The touchdown and extra point gave Aquinas the lead 21-6 with 4:36 to go in the third quarter.
Down by more than two touchdowns, Warren County wasted no time in putting points on the board and getting back into the ball game. Jabari Wilson carried the ball 39 yards to the end zone exactly 62 seconds after the touchdown pass by Aquinas. The 2-point conversion pulled Warren to within 7.
Wilson would strike again in the fourth quarter with a 16-yard run for a touchdown that drew the Devils to within a point of tying the lead. Faced with the decision of kicking the extra point to tie the game or going for two and the lead, Daniel called a timeout to talk to his team.
When asked what he told his team in the huddle, Daniel said, "I just told them they (Aquinas) were tired. Go win the game!" Wilson took the snap over the right side of the line and just got the ball over the goal line as he was going down for the 2-point conversion and the lead, 22-21.
The Devils added another touchdown late in the fourth quarter with another run by Wilson from the 7-yard line to make the score 28-21.
Wilson led all rushers for the evening with 157 yards on 15 carries. Wilson also carried the ball for three touchdowns and passed for another. Devarius Davis added 41 yards on six carries. Richard Wilburn went 2-3 through the air for 39 yards to lead the passing for Warren County. Williams had three receptions for 73 yards.
The Devils' defense accomplished their goal of shutting down the running attack of Aquinas. Douglas was held to his lowest numbers for the season. Douglas was limited to 15 yards in the second half and held to only 64 yards for the night.
Despite finishing the season with a 7-3 record, the Screaming Devils miss the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
The only three Warren County losses of the year came to region opponents, two of which came in the final three games.