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Kelly and Vikings take the win

Sep. 3—BLADENBORO — The West Columbus Vikings defeated the West Bladen Knights for a 27-15 victory on Friday night in a non-conference match-up. West Columbus started with the ball to open the first half and attempted to test the Knights secondary early with no avail. The Knights defense held firm and stopped their opponents to force a turnover on downs in favorable field position.

West Bladen junior wideout Hezikiah Adams opened the Knights first possession of the quarter on a nine yard catch and run. The Vikings defense responded by sending the host backwards with a sack on West Bladen's Hunter Hester in the backfield for a loss. Hester tried to find Adams on a deep ball but couldn't connect and the punt unit trotted on the field on fourth down.

West Columbus senior Unique Kelly athleticism was utilized to his teams advantage and he posed most of a threat behind center with scrambles out of the pocket. Kelly converted on third-and-inches after shaking a couple of defenders to move the ball forward. West Bladen caught a break when Adams plucked a hanging ball out of the air for a pick near the 50 yard line.

The host failed to capitalize on the turnover and they were forced to punt the ball back to the opposition. West Columbus marched past the 50 for the first time of the evening but the possession ended with nothing after a series of penalties killed their drive at the conclusion of the first quarter. The second quarter started shaky for the Knights offense and they were quickly faced with a third-and-seven situation.

Hester dropped back in the pocket to throw and he found Travis Baxley for a play down the sideline to put the Knights in the redzone. The Viking defense held firm at the goal line to force their opponents to send their field goal unit into the game. West Bladen junior kicker Cade Allen put the ball through the uprights to give the host a 3-0 lead with 7:42 remaining in the second quarter.

The Vikings didn't take long to respond after junior wideout Jaylen Bellamy turned a short pass to a long catch and score after making a bunch of defenders miss. The extra point was no good so the score stood at 6-3 with 6:31 remaining in the second quarter.

Both teams struggled to find a rhythm on offense in the final minutes as the first half came to a close at 6-3. West Bladen opened the third quarter with a big return from senior Cornelius Ester to get the Knights set up on their opponents 28 yard line. The Knights started their drive with Adams under center in the wildcat formation and the new look on offense made their opponents answer questions.

Adams converted on third-and-twelve by using his arm to get the Knights a first down at the goal line. The Knights kept the ball in Adams hands at the goal line and he pushed his way through to give his team the lead at 9-6. West Columbus started their first possession of the second half on the 34 yard line and were able to move the ball forward on a facemask penalty.

Kelly followed it up with a huge touchdown run to reclaim the lead for the Vikings with 9:01 remaining in the third quarter. West Bladen failed to respond on their next possession and their opponents received the ball on their own 31 yard line. The Vikings were able to get the ball to third-and-manageable after a false start pushed them backwards.

Kelly once again turned nothing into something after escaping a collapsing pocket to find daylight in the open field for his second rushing touchdown of the day. West Columbus pushed their lead to 20-9 after the extra point and the pressure was placed back on to the host.

West Bladen started with the ball on their own 48 yard line but weren't able to take advantage of the field position as penalties pushed them behind the chains. West Columbus senior defensive-end DJ Bryant got the decisive sack to force the Knights into fourth down. The Knights needed a stop more than ever and were able to get it done with a fumble recovered on their opponents 18 yard line.

Hester was under duress for most of the game and he was forced to get the ball out of his hands early as the pocket collapsed around him. Junior wideout Noah Hall got a catch but was stuffed behind the first down marker to bring on the punt unit once more.

The fourth quarter started with the Vikings driving down the field and they scored another touchdown through individual brilliance from their star man Kelly to extend his team's lead to 27-9. West Bladen came out onto the field desperate for a touchdown as time began to slip out of their favor and Adams provided the spark they were looking for.

Adams ran around the edge on a jet sweep and was met by a wall of defenders but spun hisself free to scamper into the endzone on a 60 yard touchdown run with 10:20 remaining in the game. West Columbus was able to run the clock down on their last few possessions and the Knights offense was stalling towards the end.

Adams finished the night with over 160 yards in total offense and he had an interception to his name. Hester finished with 122 yards through the air on 10-for-21 passing despite the loss. West Bladen's next game will be against East Columbus away from home next Friday in another non-conference match-up.