By Michael Kinney
Bryson Ford had never played quarterback at Southwest Covenant. When the season started, he technically wasn’t even on the depth chart.
That all changed Friday. Due to a serious of injuries, Ford was called upon to start at quarterback in the opening round of the Class C playoffs for SWC as they hosted Webber Falls. Despite his inexperience, Ford accounted for six touchdowns to help lead the Patriots to a 50-18 win over the Warriors at Taylor Park.
When coach Trey Cloud was asked if Ford is his quarterback of the future, his response showed just what the Patriots have been through this season.
“That’s my fifth-string quarterback,” Cloud said.
Ben Webb, who had guided the Patriots to a 10-0 record, suffered a devastating knee injury the week before. Backup quarterback Anderson Davis had a broken hand and was also unable to get under center.
That left Ford to take over as the Patriots signal-caller. It was a position he had never played before, but as the game wore on, he looked like a veteran at times.
“He did well. He just managed the game for us,” Cloud said. “He made some throws when he had to make some. He missed some, but that’s going to happen. He made the ones he had to make. He did well.”
It was SWC’s defense though who made the opening statement of the night. With Webber driving on their opening possession, the Patriots Will Hass picked off a deflected pass in the endzone and returned the interception to midfield.
Four plays later, Blake Riddell reached the endzone on a one-yard dive to give Southwest Covenant a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Warriors tried to respond on the ensuing drive, but the Patriot’s defense forced a fumble, which Hass recovered.
The turnover set up another Riddell touchdown run. This time he sprinted along the sideline for a 31-yard scamper before going untouched into the endzone.
Webber Falls was unable to get their offense going. The Patriots defensive front of Grayson Reuter, Andrew Arnould, Andrew Hickman and Anthony Cox lived in the Warrior’s backfield as they keyed on Josh Mason.
“That’s going to be our strength now, defense,” Cloud said. “We are going to try and do that each and every week no matter what we have to do that.
While Southwest Covenant was unable to connect in its passing game early on, that didn’t matter. Ford used his legs to break a few tackles at the line of scrimmage on his way to a 30 yard TD run.
But then Ford seemed to collect himself and got the passing game rolling. He hit a wide-open Cox for a 10-yard touchdown pass to put the Patriots up 24-0 with 2:22 left in the first half.
The Patriots shutout was ruined when Mason returned a kickoff 67 yards for a score.
But SWC answered right back with Ford’s second touchdown pass of the night. He hit Cole Gatlin near the goalline, who then barreled his way through a defender and into the endzone for a 30-6 advantage.
With 30 seconds left in the half, Hickman and Arnould crushed Mason and forced the ball out. It was recovered by Cox at the 40-yard line. However, two plays later, Riddell was on his way to the endzone when a defender knocked the ball loose and the Warriors pounced on it.
The Patriots opened up the second half looking to put the Warriors away. Ford hit Hass in the flat for a short pass. Hass then turned on the jets and sprinted 50 yards into the endzone.
Ford threw two more touchdowns to Haas and Cox to close out the night and push the Patriots into the second round of the playoffs. They will face Timberlake Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Taylor Park
The victory over Webber did more than just keep their title hopes alive. It was a life lesson that Cloud had been preaching to his team since the on the field death of sophomore Peter Webb in September.
“We know better than anybody else that life is hard. This season has sucked honestly,” Cloud said. “But we don’t give up when it sucks. And it’s bigger than football guys. This is real life stuff. You don’t give up because stuff in life is not going to be fun. But you have to push through. And guess what, you guys get to do this together. That’s what it’s about.”
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider