DECATUR — It seemed like forever.
All Jacardia Wright and the St. Teresa Bulldogs could do was wait. On fourth and two, trailing by two, Wright busted it right, shed a tackle and was run out of bounds.
The refs brought the chains: First down by a half inch.
Three plays later Wright scored his fourth — and game-winning — touchdown on a 6-yard run up the middle. The result was 36-30 St. Teresa win against Warrensburg-Latham in Friday's Central Illinois Conference marquee matchup.
"It felt like a long time," St. Teresa quarterback Jack Hogan said of waiting for the spot of the ball. "My heart was pounding. I was hoping he got it. I knew he had it because he told me he had it. I knew he had it."
"I just had to rely on my line and we had to go," Wright said said of the game-winning 11-play, 51-yard drive. "My heart was just like, I was pumped. I was pumped."
Wright ran for 45 yards on seven carries on the final drive while pulling nearly the entire Warrensburg-Latham defense at one point.
“We had to give it to our guy and see what happened," St. Teresa coach Mark Ramsey said. "He's something special when he wants to get some yards and pick up a first down. He knows where it's at and he can go get it. It makes it a lot easier to call plays in that situation.”
Still, the electric Lewis twins and the Warrensburg-Latham (2-1, 0-1) offense had 1:49 to operate. Ramsey knew his team left just enough on the clock to leave a window open.
But on fourth down and 14, Dionte Lewis heaved the ball right into the arms of a waiting St. Teresa defensive back -- Hogan.
"We were working on it in practice all week," Hogan said of the pick. "My job was to stay deep and I saw that guy come in and I saw (Dionte's) eyes and I had to commit to it."
The high-powered offenses combined to score on nine of 16 possessions, but it turned out to be Hogan's defensive play to seal the game.
After an otherwise busy second half, both teams had back-to-back turnover on downs on two separate occasions.
Warrensburg had the ball with 7:46 remaining with the ball at its own 7-yard line and a chance to eat clock and end the game. On third-and-two, Dionte busted outside, but Wright made the stop to give the Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0) the ball back.
The next possession was the game-winner.
Dionte Lewis finished with 199 rushing yards and three touchdowns (22, 40 and 52 yards) to go with his 47 passing yards on 4-of-10 passing. His brother, Diondre, ran for 173 yards and a score.
“We moved the ball well," Warrensburg-Latham coach Scott Godfrey said. "The pass for us was there early (no completions in the second half). Late, they knew it was coming. They could sit back and wait for it. We're not an offense built on that. We're not a two-minute, throw-it-down-the-field offense. They kind of had us there.”
Warrensburg held Wright to 149 yards on 27 carries and four touchdowns (27, 8, 17 and 6 yards), but the junior tailback was just fine with taking short runs — most of which he squirted through the pile for extra yardage.
"Like coach said, a four- to five-yard run is a great play," Wright said. "That's all I was shooting for all night was trying to get the four to five yards and get the first down."
Godfrey knew his team had to contain Wright, and was generally pleased with holding the back to 5.3 yards per carry.
"We did a good job of bottling him up," Godfrey said. "We came up a little bit short."
Hogan hulks up
The sophomore quarterback for the Bulldogs continues to improve each week. On Friday, Hogan completed 13-of-19 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown while running for 57 yards.
Hogan was a perfect 5-of-5 in the third quarter for 77 yards leading the Bulldogs on a touchdown drive that was capped off by Wright's 17-yard run.
He also connected on a 20-yard pass to Michael Less midway through the second quarter.
"He's really coming on," Ramsey said. "He's always been a competitor, but he's really coming on to understand the offense. He made some nice throws and made the big defensive play at the end, too."
Not the same team
No one on St. Teresa left the field under the impression this was the same Warrensburg team the Bulldogs beat twice last season.
It certainly isn't the same team that St. Teresa has beaten 14 consecutive times dating back to 2001.
"That's a great team," Wright said. "That's a great team.
"Those are some great athletes right there," Wright added of the Lewises. "I give respect for both of them. They're hard to stop. We had to contain them. That was our game plan."
Injury bug bites
St. Teresa lineman got banged up with sprained ankles early in the first half. Center Jayden Smith and guard Zach Lewis each sprained their ankle. Both also play on the defensive line. Lewis played sparingly in the second half and Smith was relegated mostly to the offensive side of the ball after halftime.
"We just kind of patched it together," Ramsey said. "We threw a couple guys in there who weren't used to playing varisty."
Looking for the marquee win
Warrensburg may not have a chance to see the Bulldogs again this season. St. Teresa will likely move on to the 3A postseason while Warrensburg will be in 1A, but the Cardinals still have chances to make a splash in the Central Illinois Conference.
Games against Tuscola, Shelbyville and Central A&M remain. Visibly, the loss hurt for the team, but Godfrey wants to use the loss as a stepping stone.
“I mean, we don't take well to losing," Godfrey said. "Nobody wants to lose. I want it to hurt and I want them to remember how this feels. Hopefully they don't want to feel that way again.”