WILSON - Stellar quarterback play has been part of Wilson's success over the past five years. Tyler Smith and DJ Lenehan guided the Warrors to three Colonial League titles and one state crown in that span, leaving big shoes to fill this season for first-year starter Chris Cooper.
The senior signal caller has stepped up to meet that challenge. He accounted for 299 of his team's 376 yards in a 25-6 win over Northwestern Saturday afternoon, running for 71 yards and throwing for 228 yards and a touchdown.
"He's a dual threat guy," said Wilson head coach Brett Comp. "He can hurt you running the football. He proved he can throw the ball last week and he proved it this week too."
With a 6-0 lead early in the second half, Comp leaned heavily on his quarterback.
On the Warriors first possession after intermission, a 14-play touchdown drive, Cooper carried the ball eight times and completed two passes. He led his team 76 yards and handed to Trey Robinson to cap the drive with a one-yard touchdown and a 12-0 Wilson lead with 2:47 left in the third quarter.
After a Northwestern drive stalled at the Wilson 27-yard line, Cooper engineered a quick scoring drive. This time he ran once and threw three passes, including a 37-yard touchdown strike to Kowan Scott, who caught seven passes for 145 yards in the game.
Scott's only touchdown of the game put his team ahead 18-0 with 8:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Northwestern answered with a 2-play touchdown drive capped by a 65-yard touchdown catch by Ty Cunningham that made it 18-6 with 7:32 left to play.
But Cooper answered. He took over and led his team 75 yards in 11 plays. He ran the ball twice on the drive and threw it four times. Robinson finished it with a 9-yard run, his his third touchdown which put his team up 25-6 win with 3:52 left on the clock.
The Warriors ran the ball 19 times in the second half and threw it just 10 times, which is not the ratio normally seen from their Air Raid offense.
"They have coverage schemes and we really weren't threatening at the end of the first half with our running game," Comp said. "They were giving us a certain look you should be running the football against it. It's all a chess game."
A new facet to the Wilson offense doesn't bode well for opponents.
"They can move the ball in the air and they're comfortable with that," said Northwestern head coach Tom Linette. "If they get their ground game working like they did [Saturday] they're going to be a force.
"They wanted to run that clock and they did and we couldn't stop them. I think that was the big difference in the second half. Because of their passing game they forced us to play pass defense. In that situation you should be able to focus on the run. That offense won't let you do that."
Northwestern sustained a few drives in the game, however all but one ended without points.
The Tigers first possession of the game saw them go 57 yards on 10 plays ending with a missed field goal. They had just two three-and-out series in the game, but one fumble and a few costly penalties helped to kill drives.
Cunningham led the Tigers with 66 rushing yards on seven carries and five receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown.
Cooper went 13-for-24 with one touchdown and no interceptions. Northwestern's Ben Snyder completed nine of 14 passes for 123 yards and one score.