Wilson football has put together a historic year and hadn’t struggled much until Millikan stole a halftime lead on Friday night in the regular season finale. The Bruins responded well and came back for a 35-27 win at home on Senior Night.
“This is kind of the first time we’ve faced adversity all year,” Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen said. “I just told them at halftime that championship teams come back and win the second half. We had to draw a line in the dirt. This is our home. (Millikan) came ready to play, and hats off to them. But I’ll take a win.”
Wilson (9-1) took a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter, but three touchdown passes from Qeanu Campbell-Caldwell before halftime gave Millikan (3-7, 2-4) a 21-14 lead. The game turned on a Bruins interception returned for a touchdown, and a Rams fake punt for a touchdown, but the Wilson rushing attack proved to be the difference down the stretch. The Bruins averaged seven yards per carry.
The Bruins clinched second place in the Moore League with the win, and will likely enter the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs as a top-4 team. Brackets will be released on Sunday.
Wilson took the lead late in the first quarter when quarterback Ryan Pettway and receiver Michael Bruner hooked up for their 11th touchdown of the season. The Bruins doubled their lead on running back Dillon Harris’ first score of the night.
Campbell-Caldwell got his team back in the game with a 66-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ezavier Staples, a 38-yard touchdown pass to running back Ajae Gravelly, and a 17-yard one-handed touchdown catch by Staples as time expired in the first half.
Millikan held that 21-14 lead until late in the third quarter when Wilson linebacker Odell Fua intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 70 yards for the touchdown.
“I saw Brett Dowgiewicz tip (the ball) and it just fell into my hands,” Fua said. “I didn’t know (if I would make it to the end zone) but in my head I was just like, ‘run, run, keep running!’”
Fua transferred from Narbonne and said the chemistry of the Wilson defense has been key to its success. The Bruins had nine tackles for loss and held the Rams under 20 net yards on the ground.
“I give it up to all of my teammates,” Fua said. “This is my first year here and they became my brothers in a short about of time. I love them.”
Wilson junior nose guard Alama Collins had a game-high three sacks, and the second-half pressure on Campbell-Caldwell changed the game.
“Alama is obviously a bull in the middle,” Ziegenhagen said. “We knew they couldn’t block him so they were double and triple teaming him. It had to free up our backers so we changed some of our blitzes and coverage in the second half to keep everything in front of us.”
After Harris scored his second touchdown of the night, Millikan stayed in the game with an 88-yard fake punt touchdown run by senior Jerron Lincoln that cut the lead to 28-27 early in the fourth quarter.
However, Wilson answered with a 10-play drive that Pettway finished with a short touchdown run to cap the scoring.
QB Ryan Pettway – 8/19, 153 yards, TD (10 rushes, 101 yards, TD)
RB Dillon Harris – 24 carries, 149 yards, 2 TD
WR Nick Timko – 4 receptions, 84 yards
DL Alama Collins – 3 tackles for loss
QB Qeanu Campbell Caldwell – 20/35, 315 yards, 3 TD, INT
WR Ezavier Staples – 7 receptions, 167 yards, 2 TD
WR Andrew Gonzales – 7 receptions, 67 yards