Wilmington Running back Justin MacKinnon sprung free down the sideline at Alumni Stadium and darted into the end zone with 8:38 to play in the fourth quarter on Friday night, bringing the Wildcat deficit to just one score and jolting life into the stands for the first time all game.
That excitement, however, didn’t last long thanks to the yellow flag that was tossed onto the field back near the line of scrimmage.
Officials called back the score due to a holding penalty and the score remained at 14-0. Wilmington never sniffed the end zone again the rest of the way as Arlington added a late score and went on to a 21-0 victory.
“I don’t know if the penalty springs the touchdown or not, but the bottom line is we go from a touchdown to 2nd and 10, and you see more time tick off the clock,” said Wilmington head coach Mike Barry. “When we have a chance to make a play on offense or defense, we have to do that. We need to capitalize on opportunities and we just didn’t do that.”
Wilmington appeared in control of the game early on. They took their opening drive down to the Arlington 10-yard-line, but turned the ball over on downs. The next drive stalled at the Spy Ponder 28-yard line following a fumble, and the following drive ended the same way at the 39.
In total, the Wildcats coughed up three fumbles and Arlington made three interceptions during the opening tilt.
“It’s not a complicated game. People get confused about that sometimes,” said Barry. “This is all about executing. You can have any offensive or defensive scheme in the world, but you have to execute it. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Arlington cracked the scoreboard late in the first when quarterback Seth Coiley took a fourth down quarterback sneak from the five-yard line and dragged pile into the end zone.
Poor tackling led to a second Arlington touchdown with 5:54 to play in the first half. Matthew Garcia took a handoff up the middle and plowed over two defenders to find the open field. He cruised into the end zone after the missed tackles for a 39-yard score.
Wilmington earned a big stop on fourth and goal at the one yard line with 3:45 to play. Coiley crossed the goal line, but officials ruled he stepped out before that.
The Wildcats began mounting a drive, but it ended with a sack-fumble near midfield and the Spy Ponders went on to add their final score of the game.
“I’m not worried about bouncing back,” said Barry. “I have great kids who are going to fight. There were a lot of kids out there for the first time and they have to understand the intensity, concentration they have to bring at this level. I don’t know if we did that at all times.”