Story by Donny Victory/Times Record News
Photo by Lauren Roberts/Times Record News
Wichita Falls, TX - In a game that saw 79 points scored, it wasn't one of the fastest guys making the biggest impact. It was 6-5, 340-pound Walter Thomas and his big paw.
About halfway through the fourth quarter, Tri-City had driven the length of the field before having to attempt a 24-yard field goal. When the ball was snapped, Thomas plowed through the hapless Fever offensive linemen, getting his hands up to block the field goal. The block led to a 4-yard touchdown run from Jordan Jolly that sealed a 44-35 victory over the Nighthawks.
"It wasn't really something that I thought about," Thomas said. "I knew that (Josh) Francis wasn't back there with me, so I just did the best that I could. I just put my work in twice as hard during the week to make up for what we had lost from Josh (who was injured in practice) during the week."
After the block, Tri-City only managed to give up the Jolly touchdown and fumble the ball, allowing Wichita Falls to run out the clock.
"After the block, I knew that I had to get the ball in the end zone," Jolly said. "Everyone was fired up, and we knew it was our chance. We took the game."
The second half started in a flurry. Tyler Williams took the second half kickoff the length of the field for a touchdown.
"We had talked about wanting to get a quick start in the second half," Williams said. "We knew we were short handed, so we knew we would have to make up for some of that on special teams. Coach brought me in here to return kicks. I was glad that I got that one for us."
That was followed by Tri-Cities' DeJuan Miller catching a scoring strike from Hunter Wanket to retake the lead. Quarterback Charles McCullum was not going to be outdone so he led Wichita Falls down the field with three passes to get the lead back for the Nighthawks.
Both teams traded scores before the third quarter was over, leaving Wichita Falls with a 37-35 lead as the teams headed into the fourth.
"We knew we had been in a battle by the start of the fourth," coach Billy Back said. "Being short-handed coming in, we knew we were going to have to make some plays. Walter and Tyler did that in the second half for us."