Edgewood Academy’s Kam Burleson (5) makes a catch for an 85 yard TD reception, slipping past Springwood’s Benjamin Hull (22) in the first quarter on Friday, September 13, 2019 at Edgewood Academy in Elmore, Ala. (Photo by: Adam Broach/ for TPI)

Edgewood held a halftime lead on the road against the top-ranked team in AISA but Wilcox’s rushing attack overpowered the Wildcats in the second half. No. 1 Wilcox scored 21 unanswered points in the final two quarters to win 35-21, handing No. 4 Edgewood its first loss of the season Friday.

“It’s always good to play against a good team,” Edgewood coach Darryl Free said. “There’s a reason we scheduled this team. It showed us some things we needed to work on. We made a few mistakes but the good thing is they are all correctable.”

Edgewood (7-1) put points on the board less than 90 seconds into the game when quarterback Alex Johnson connected with Kaleb Varner for a 26-yard touchdown pass to put the Wildcats ahead 7-0. However, Johnson did not make another impact on the scoreboard as he was ejected for an altercation with a Wilcox player. 

Freshman Austin Champion stepped in as the backup quarterback and kept the Edgewood offense going for the remainder of the first half. He finished with 275 yards through the air and threw a touchdown pass to Kam Burleson to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead at halftime. 

Varner led the Wildcats with 148 receiving yards and a touchdown on six receptions. Burleson finished with 65 yards on four receptions while Robert Stewart added 51 yards on four catches.

“(Champion) did a great job of coming in and managing the offense,” Free said. “That’s another positive to take from this. He got some experience so if we need him to fill in down the road, we know he will be ready.”

Edgewood did not find its normal success on the ground, finishing with just 42 yards on 22 carries. Running back Drez Crawford led the way with Mitchell Boyd still out of the backfield and Crawford totaled 101 yards of offense on 14 total touches.

“We did well and executed early on,” Free said. “But I thought we left some points on the field in the first half. That’s football though and you have to learn from it.”

Wilcox dominating with its rushing attack, averaging more than seven yards per carry and racking up 367 rushing yards. All five touchdowns came on the ground for Wilcox.

“They’re just really good at what they do,” Free said. “I think our defense settled in as the game went along but this just wasn’t our most complete game on offense or defense.”