A year later and the sting of losing to King vividly burned in the memory of Corey Warren.
Phillipsreached the Class 4A quarterfinals last year. Still, the lasting disappointment of the Jaguars’ victory deprived the Wildcats an outright conference championship and dampened last year’s homecoming celebration.
“We were really pumped up for this game,” Warren said.
The elevated stakes in the rematch gave the victor the dominant edge for the Land of Lincoln crown.
“We had to make a statement,” Warren said.
The senior Wildcats running back gained 143 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns and also registered a defensive touchdown as No. 25 Phillips thrashed the Jaguars 35-0 in a showdown of conference unbeatens Saturday at Gately.
Phillips (5-1, 3-0) forced four turnovers, recorded a safety and limited King to just 35 yards of offense.
“They beat us,” King coach Lonnie Williams said. “In the first quarter we almost gave the game away, and that got us into a bind where had to play catchup and they’re too good of a team for that.”
Phillips seized a 15-0 lead at the break. An errant snap caused King punter Sean Edison Jr. to step out of the back of the end zone for the safety. Phillips all-purpose star Quayvon Skanes returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards to set up sophomore Kamari Mosby’s 6-yard touchdown run for an 8-0 Wildcat advantage.
The cold and rain grounded the Wilcats’ aerial attack. Phillips attempted just four passes. “We threw when we needed to,” standout Phillips senior quarterback Dewayne Collins said. He turned a broken play into a thrilling touchdown.
Standing in the shotgun, Collins saw the snap sail over his head. He alertly grabbed the ball on the bounce, avoided the oncoming King rush and moved right to throw a 22-yard scoring strike to Skanes.
“He was supposed to throw it deeper, but the ball was a little short and I had to make a play on it,” Skanes said. Collins rushed for 48 yards on 18 carries and completed the 2 of 4 passes for 34 yards. “I had the pressure on me from their defensive line and I just spun out of it,” Collins said.
“I looked up and I saw Quayvon in a one-on-one,” he said.
Phillips turned the game into a rout in the fourth quarter. On a 13-play, 67-yard drive, Warren carried the ball 10 times for 38 yards. He punctuated the drive with a 4-yard burst up the interior of the Jaguars’ defense. Safety Jamal Brown’s 54-yard interception return led to Warren’s 5-yard touchdown run.
“Ball security is a must,” he said. “On a wet day like this, we had to protect the ball, so our game plan was more about running. I’m the workhorse, along with the quarterback. If they’re keying on him, he’s going to give it to me.
“This was a rivalry game, and we worked hard to execute, on offense and defense,” he said.
Warren put the exclamation point on the victory with a 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
King running back Lance Robinson was limited to just 38 yards on 16 carries for the Jaguars (4-2, 2-1). Defensive tackle Dwight Hunter was the lone bright spot with four tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. “Our offense just didn’t do it out there today,” Williams said.