Jamie Lathrop threw three touchdown passes and Virginia High spread the wealth offensively as the Bearcats came away with a 41-27 victory.
Virginia High led 27-7 at halftime and then held on for dear life after Wise Central drew within a touchdown with less than two minutes to play.
“At any time we’re playing six freshmen and three sophomores. Gosh, we grew up a bunch tonight,” said Wise Central coach Luke Owens. “Too many missed opportunities in the first half and that pick six — or this is a different ballgame.”
Virginia High (3-1) needed just five plays to score twice within the first five minutes. With Lathrop hitting Hunter Wright on a 35-yard scoring toss and then connecting with Austin Davidson on an 8-yard strike, the Bearcats led 13-0 before Wise Central (1-2) could record a first down.
Lathrop completed his first 10 passes and finished with a 12-of-16 effort for 156 yards and the three scores.
“Their quarterback did a great job,” Owens said.
The senior’s other TD pass went to Wright, a 12-yard hookup that made it a 20-7 game early in the second quarter.
Davidson turned in the biggest play of the game late in the second quarter, picking off an Isaiah McAmis pass and running 75 yards to the end zone. The impact play provided the Bearcats with their 20-point halftime advantage.
“We played well in spurts,” Virginia High coach Michael Crist said. “Tremendous at times and not so tremendous at other times. It’s on me to get these kids to give us a full 48 minutes.”
Wise Central still trailed 27-7 early in the fourth quarter when the Warriors made a charge, only to come up just shy.
McAmis scored on a short run and C.J. Crabtree added his second TD plunge of the night to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 34-20.
The Warriors then recovered an onside kick, leading to a 20-yard touchdown pass from McAmis to Ethan Mullins with 1:50 remaining.
A second onside kick didn’t work out, however, and Virginia High tacked on a clinching touchdown when Stevie Thomas ran it in from the 26 in the final minute.
Thomas, who also scored on a 7-yard run early in the fourth, led all ball carriers with 137 yards.
“He has a chance to be special,” Crist said of his speedy freshman.