By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN – East Webster's biggest ally a week ago turned into its worst enemy Friday night as the Wolverines hosted Okolona.
Seven days after being the beneficiary of five Vardaman turnovers in a season-opening win, East Webster lost the ball three times in the fourth quarter Friday against the Chieftains as the Wolverines saw their late 10-7 lead quickly turn into a 21-10 loss.
"That's the name of the game," said East Webster senior defensive back Codie Silver. "Turnovers win ballgames and we just came out on the wrong end of the stick in the second half."
It was an unfortunate turn of events for an East Webster team who had battled its way out of an early 7-0 hole to put themselves in position for a win.
After falling behind with just over 7 minutes to play in the first quarter when Okolona's Jordan Ivy scored on a 75-yard punt return, the Wolverines pounded their way back to tie the game on their ensuing possession.
Starting from their own 45-yard line, East Webster put together a 16-play, 55-yard drive that ate up the remainder of the first quarter.
The Wolverines (1-1) knotted the game at 7-7 when Deangelo Liggins broke to the outside for a five-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter.
That score held until East Webster's Tyler Cosby drilled a 25-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the first half to send the Wolverines into the intermission with a 10-7 lead.
"We were in a good spot (at halftime)," said East Webster head coach Doug Wilson. "We didn't have a whole lot to adjust on. What we were doing was working. We just told the kids to keep their composure and keep working hard on every snap. They did that. Just a few plays here and there really hurt us."
No play hurt the Wolverines more than the first play of the fourth quarter.
Just moments after East Webster forced an Okolona fumble to take over on their own 7-yard line, the Wolverines lost the ball themselves, setting the Cheiftains up with a 1st-and-goal from the East Webster 3-yard line.
"That fumble really hurt us," said Wilson. "We really sort of went out of our comfort zone right there and called a play to try and get to the edge. That (mistake) is on me as much as it is the kids. We sort of out-thought ourselves there."
It didn't take long for Okolona (2-0) to capitalize on the miscue as running back Fred Ward scored on a three-yard scamper to put the Chieftains out in front 15-10 after a two-point conversion.
Okolona capped the night's scoring on East Webster's next possession when Ward hauled in the first of his two fourth-quarter interceptions and returned it 42 yards for the touchdown, all but ending the Wolverines' chances and allowing the Chieftains and head coach Calvin Aldridge to escape Cumberland with the win.
"(East Webster) was 14-1 last year," said Aldridge. "The last two times these teams have played, East Webster has beaten us 86-7. So I think this was a big win by us. I think we were the underdog coming in here if you ask me."
Despite the loss, Silver, who led East Webster with 10 tackles, said he was proud of the fight the Wolverines showed.
"We did our best," said Silver. "We tried to hang in there and play our hearts out against a talented team. That's all we can do."
Wilson believes the entire game will serve to better his team in the future, progress that he hopes to start seeing when East Webster travels to face Weir next week.
"We fell short," said Wilson. "But we feel like we got better and that's what we want to do - get better every week."