By JOEL POILEY
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 19, 2001
TAMPA -- Quarterback Ryan Watts rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his one completion that proved vital as Armwood outlasted Wharton 35-21 Thursday.
Armwood (3-5) backed up its reputation as a running team, blistering Wharton for 365 rushing yards.
But after Wharton (3-5) closed a 21-7 halftime deficit to 28-21 early in the fourth quarter, Watts burned the Wildcats with a play-action pass to a wide-open Kalvin Bailey for a backbreaking 69-yard score. Bailey's brother, defensive back Dalvin Bailey, sealed the victory several minutes later with a diving interception deep in Armwood territory.
"My assistants wanted to throw that pass sooner because they felt it would work," Armwood coach Sean Callahan said. "We don't throw the ball well, so that's what we like to do, run the ball until we can set up the pass with play action."
Wharton's fifth consecutive loss included a familiar refrain: an inability to stop the run. Last week the Wildcats surrendered 390 yards on the ground in a 38-10 loss to Hillsborough.
The Wildcats generated 46 yards rushing, forcing quarterback Ross Corcoran to throw 48 times. He completed 17 for 273 yards and two scores. Bailey, a freshman who rushed for 71 yards, started the scoring with an 11-yard run. Wharton tied it at 7 on a 40-yard pass from Corcoran to Larry Edwards late in the first quarter.
Watts ran 23 times and attempted five passes. His scoring runs of 15 and 28 yards in the second quarter provided Armwood's halftime lead. Those drives included key plays from Greg White, who rushed for 105 on 15 carries.
Cornelius Mitchell made it 28-7 midway through the third quarter with a 34-yard run featuring several changes of direction. Wharton countered with a 13-yard scoring toss from Corcoran to Phillip Prior after recovering a fumble in Armwood territory.
A 47-yard completion to Michael Coonce set up Corcoran's 1-yard touchdown run with 9:22 left. But Watts sealed it with a perfect pass to Bailey for the 69-yard score.