Winning grab

West senior tight end Garrett Patrick hauls in the winning 5-yard touchdown pass after leaping over two North defenders in Hays on Friday.

Garrett Patrick hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass from Logan Wayne with just under two minutes to play in the fourth quarter as the West Wilkes Blackhawks slipped past North Wilkes 31-27 Friday night in a thriller in Hays.

The Blackhawks trailed late in the fourth in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference affair after North’s Zach Wyatt put the home team up three, at 27-24, with a 37-yard quarterback keeper up the heart of West’s defense.

But West Wilkes responded with a late drive aided by a pivotal call. Facing fourth down from the North 23, the visitors saw a pass from Wayne to Braxton Church knocked down by Vikings defensive back Tryston Walker, seemingly giving North the ball with the lead.

However, officials flagged the Vikings for roughing the passer on the play, and three snaps later Wayne connected with Patrick, a tall red zone target. Wayne lobbed the ball over the defense to the 6’ 1” tight end, and Patrick fell at the back of the end zone with the score.

The Vikings, who celebrated senior night at Raner Wiles Stadium in the season finale for both squads prior to kickoff, had one more chance to take the lead in the game’s final seconds. But a fourth-down pass from Wyatt intended for receiver Will Harrold was intercepted by West’s Jaheim McDougald with 38 seconds left to play.

North led 14-7 at halftime, and seemed able early to stymie the West offensive attack. The Blackhawks’ lone score in the first half came off an interception return for six from lineman Gary Call.

But the Hawks found a rhythm after the intermission, thanks in large part to the potent - and drive sustaining - Wayne-to-Church aerial connection. That connection helped a team that had scored only six points total in two recent losses bounce back for 24 second-half points.

The Vikings finished the season 1-6, while the Blackhawks ended the spring with a 3-4 mark.

A complete game report will be published in Wednesday's edition of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

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