WARRENTON, Ga. — A long history of futility was nearly toppled Friday before order was restored between two of the smallest football-playing schools in the GHSA.
Senior backup quarterback Richard Wilburn stepped in for ailing starter Damien Clarke and led touchdown drives at the end of each half to rally Warren County to a 26-20 victory over visiting Glascock County.
Wilburn connected with Antron Gilbert on a 51-yard touchdown pass with 2:49 left in the game to break a deadlock. Gilbert caught the ball amid several Glascock defenders, bounced clear and ran the final 20 yards for the winning score.
“I was just under a lot of pressure and just noticed guys down field and they got open,” said Wilburn, who threw for 107 yards after replacing Clarke, who was hampered by a sore hamstring. “It feels good to get that first win.”
Glascock (0-2) – which once owned a national-record 82-game losing streak – had never beaten neighbor Warren County in 16 meetings since 1974, losing by an average score of 41-4 and being shut out nine times.
“I told our players that before the game,” said Warren County athletics director and offensive coordinator Zach Houston. “We can’t overlook them because we haven’t lost to them. Being 20 miles down the road, you know we’re going to get their best shot.”
The Panthers looked primed to break through by scoring their most points in the series and taking a 20-6 lead late in the first half.
Taking advantage of three turnovers deep in Warren County territory, the Panthers opened their largest-ever lead over Warren with 1:48 left in the first half on Joe Brown’s second touchdown run of the second quarter.
Warren County answered immediately with a 74-yard kickoff return touchdown by Anquavious Hill that cut it to 20-14.
The Screaming Devils got a break when Jeremy Norris stripped the ball and recovered at their own 38 with 43 seconds left in the half.
On second-and-16 with the clock running under 20 seconds, Wilburn heaved a deep pass to Jermaine Berry at the 8-yard line in a throng of Glascock defenders. Warren County called timeout with 7.4 seconds left, and Wilburn tucked and ran over a Panthers linebacker to fall into the end zone as the clock expired to tie the game at 20-20.
“Our quarterback who was running well in the first half had some trouble, so we had to adjust to another quarterback,” Houston said.
Clarke rushed for 115 yards in the first half, including a 44-yard run to set up a touchdown when Glascock County was up 12-0.
“We let them have too many big plays,” Glascock head coach Chris Kelly said. “We should’ve had that interception (on the winning touchdown play). But we played hard. Disappointed.”
Glascock County’s A.J. Sammons led all rushers with 112 yards on 21 carries.