Wellington forces 4 turnovers and stops Rose Hill's two-point conversion in a one-point win

Greg Williams
Wellington Daily News

After starting the season with two tough losses, then defeating Labette County, Wellington was looking to win their second straight game to get to .500 on the season.

The Crusaders traveled to Rose Hill, and in a defensive battle, Wellington secured a 13-12 win by forcing four interceptions and denying the Rockets on a late-game two-point conversion.

Wellington (2-2) set the tone on the first play of the game as Skyler Branam returned the opening kickoff into Rockets territory.  Four plays later, quarterback Malachi Rogers connected with Brody Weir for an 11-yard touchdown to get the Crusaders on the board, but missing the extra point.

After the Crusaders forced a Rose Hill (1-4) three and out, Wellington was threatening to score. However, penalties stalled the Crusaders, and they would turn the ball over on downs inside the Rockets 15-yard line.

"We were able to put together some good drives," said Wellington head coach Zane Aguliar. "But, it seemed like we were destroying other drives because of the penalties and bad decisions. If we want to play late into the season, we have to clean that up."

The Rockets were still struggling to get anything going on offense, but on their third possession, on third and 11, the Rockets got into a rhythm. 

Rose Hill's Lane Gardner connected with Chase Green on the third-down play, then made a circus catch while getting hit in the air to keep the driving moving. Gardner would tie the game with a four-yard rushing touchdown, but failed on the two-point conversion.

After the first quarter, the scripts flipped for both sides. The Wellington offense began to struggle and the Rose Hill offense started to figure out the Crusaders' defense. 

The Rockets were moving the ball well on the Crusaders, but Wellington ended up making the big plays. On Rose Hill's first possession in the second quarter, Wellington's Cope Henry picked off Gardner. On the next drive, Wellington's Jace Barton forced another interception. 

"Our defense came to play," said Aguliar. "We created turnovers and we had a lot of young guys moving around on the field. We put guys out there to be successful and they did a great job."

In the second half, the scripts flipped again, and Wellington brought the juice. They forced a three and out, then on the first offensive play, Henry broke through the middle of the field and ran for a 42-yard touchdown. 

After the touchdown, Wellington's Mekhi Haskin-Ybarra forced another Gardner interception and the whole momentum had totally shifted towards the Crusaders. 

Later, in the fourth quarter, Wellington began to run the clock out, but Rose Hill came up with a stop with five minutes left in the game. 

They took a shot at getting closer to the end zone, but Barton was there to secure his second interception of the game and the fourth turnover for Rose Hill. 

However, for Rose Hill, a  miracle fell right into their lap as a fumble on a Rogers to Dustyn Schettler option play was recover by the Rockets.

Three plays later, Gardner ran it in for a touchdown. Instead of tying the game, Rose Hill went for the win. Gardner handed it off, but the Wellington defense denied Rose Hill from taking the lead and Wellington secured the win.

"This feels great," said Aguilar. "We had guys made plays and that's what our defense did. Now, we are going to get ready (for El Dorado on homecoming) and treat it like any other week."

Next week Wellington will host El Dorado (2-3) for homecoming with a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at Sellers Park. 

Greg Williams has been the reporter for the Wellington Daily News and Butler County Times-Gazette since May 2021. You can reach him at GWilliams@gannett.com or on Twitter at @GregWilliams28.