Westminster Christian was down 21-7 late in the third quarter, and the Warriors were not looking like themselves.
In front of a rabid home Gulliver Prep crowd, they were leaving gaping holes open in their run defense and usually reliable senior quarterback Hunter Boyette had already thrown a pair of interceptions.
But then Westminster reeled off 20 unanswered points on three touchdown runs by Jordan Cronkrite to defeat previously unbeaten Gulliver 27-21 on Friday afternoon.
“I saw that the players were down a little bit, and it looked like they needed a spark, and it was my job as leader of the team to step up,” said Cronkrite, who finished with 89 yards on 13 carries.
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Cronkrite sweeped through the left side to score the game-winning touchdown from 7 yards out with 1:26 remaining. A 14-yard scamper where he stutter-stepped a Gulliver defender at the 5-yard line and then put his head down in the open field to get across the goal line tied the game earlier in the fourth quarter after a two-point conversion.
“[Cronkrite is] one of the guys you want to get the ball to when your back’s against the wall,” Westminster Christian coach Sedrick Irvin said.
After Westminster (5-1, 1-0 District 8-3A) tied the game at 21, Gulliver put together a 12-play drive that stalled at the Warriors’ 33-yard line. The Raiders tried a 51-yard field goal, but it never got off the ground after an errant snap.
Gulliver (6-1, 2-0 District 8-4A) had one last gasp on its final drive, but quarterback Jowan Watson was stopped a yard shy of a first down on a fourth-down run that started with the ball being snapped over Watson’s head.
“Everybody can play football when you’re up 30 or 40 points, but now what are you going to do when you face adversity and you’re down 14 and you’re on the road?” Irvin asked his team when it was down by 14.
“I challenged them, and I asked them what’s their purpose. Why are you playing this game, and what does it mean to you?”
Tim Irvin finished with 63 yards on nine carries and caught two passes for 33 yards. One of his catches went for a 21-yard touchdown after he spun away from a defender on a hitch.
The Warriors twice converted fourth downs that could’ve sealed a victory for Gulliver — Boyette found Irvin on one and connected with 6-6 wide receiver/tight end Devonaire Clarington to extend the tying drive.
Defensively, Westminster sacked Watson six times — Brett Benson and Dylan Charlton recorded two sacks apiece — and middle linebacker Roshad Broadway had an early interception.