Atlantic 21, Wellington 5: Eagles’ defense keys victory

  • Special to The Post
Nov 03, 2017

Atlantic’s defense looks ready for the playoffs.

In a 21-5 homecoming victory over Wellington, the Eagles kept the Wolverines out of the end zone, limited them to 124 total net yards and seven first downs, and forced six turnovers.

As District 10-Class 8A champs, the second-ranked Eagles (8-1) will be home for a playoff game next Friday. As of the last FHSAA standings update, Atlantic held the fourth seed in the Region 3-8A playoffs. Atlantic will learn its official seeding and first-round playoff opponent late Sunday morning.

The Wolverines (4-5) likely saw their season end. They began this week in 13th place in the Region 3-8A standings.

Atlantic intercepted Wellington quarterback Austin Wallace four times, and also picked off punter Jadien Durant on a fake punt on the Wolverines’ final possession. Wallace completed his first four passes, but only 3-of-20 after that. He was also sacked five times.

Atlantic won despite being limited to 6 yards rushing, and getting penalized 19 times for 194 yards. A trio of quarterbacks — including starter Antoine Williams and backup Kalani Ilimaleota — connected with nine receivers for a combined 227 passing yards.

Wellington opened the game by marching from its 27 to the Atlantic 15 before settling for Morgan Suarez’s 30-yard field goal with 6:20 left in the first quarter.

A failed onside kick gave the Eagles the ball on the Wolverines’ 45. Five plays later, Williams kept the ball and broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 10-yard touchdown run that put Atlantic ahead.

Atlantic pushed the lead to 14-3 early in the second quarter. Marc-Allan Durac made the first interception of Wallace and returned it 53 yards to the Wolverines 13. Two plays later, tailback Shelley Singletary bounced off a would-be tackler and scored from 13 yards out with 9:30 left in the first half.

Wellington began its last possession of the first half on the Atlantic 14 thanks to a series of Eagles penalties and a short punt. But on fourth-and-5, Corey Gammage intercepted Wallace in the end zone with less than 30 seconds left in the half.

Wellington notched a safety when Jadien Durant’s 64-yard punt rolled to the Atlantic 1, and an Atlantic ball carrier was tackled behind the goal line on the next snap. The Wolverines were within 14-5 with 10:24 remaining in the fourth quarter and were about to get the ball back.

But Wellington could not contain the ensuing free kick, and Atlantic recovered the fumble on the Wolverines 42. Four plays later, Ilimaleota connected with Gammage on a 17-yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 21-5 with 7:18 remaining.