Wells’ Payton MacKay picks up some yards during a run on Friday night. SIENNA BARSTOW/Journal Tribune

WELLS — The No. 1 Wells football team punched their ticket to Class D South regional final after taking down No. 5 Winthrop/Monmouth/Hall-Dale 41-22 at Warrior Memorial Field on Thursday night.
“I’m happy as heck. There was a lot of stuff being said, ‘they should have beat us the first game.’ Our kids really took that to heart and we wanted to shut them down and I think we did for the most part. Winthrop made some plays but for the most part, we did a great job,” said Wells head coach Tim Roche.
The Warriors opened the scoring with three touchdowns in 56 seconds near the end of the first quarter.
With 2:48 left in the first quarter, quarterback Matt Sherburne completed a 42-yard pass to Tyler Bridge to position Wells at the 5-yard line. On the first down, Bridge carried the ball into end zone and Gary Andrews secured the extra point to create a 7-0 score.
Just 43 seconds later, the Warriors scored again. At the 2:05 mark, Payton Mackay rushed the ball 47 yards for a Warrior touchdown.
Wells recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick off and struck again just 13 seconds later. This time, Mackay carried the ball 27-yards to create a 20-0 score.
“We saw something. I have the best assistant coaches in the world and they’re able to tell me stuff. They saw something that was open and went to it,” said Roche. “If a team tries to stop one thing then we have other things that we can come back too. I think they tried to stop Tyler and we were able to hit Payton.”
Bridge would score the next touchdown for the Warriors. With 6:57 left in the first half, the senior rushed the ball into the end zone from 44 yards out to make it 26-0.
The Ramblers would finally get on the scoreboard when Jake Sousa returned the kick 60 yards to cut the lead to 26-8.
With 8:35 left in the third quarter, Mackay delivered his third touchdown of the night — this time from 46 yards out.
“We moved the ball. I know we had a couple of quick hitters right away but then we controlled the clock. (Keegan Choate) is a great quarterback so we had to take the ball out of his hands. We had some good long drives, I think that’s probably what we did best,” said Roche.
The Ramblers were not going to go down without a fight. At the 7:01 mark in the third quarter, Choate tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Lajoie to produce a 34-16 score.
But the score would remain out of Winthrop’s reach after Bridge scored on a 45-yard run to make it 41-16.
“Our offense moved the ball. We aren’t just the Tyler Bridge show as good as he is. He’s the best in the state. We have kids like Payton Mackay, Devin Chace and Jonah Potter that can run the ball too,” said Roche. “Morgan Welch-Thompson as defensive end is unreal. Matt Tufts the other defensive end. They claim, ‘we can’t throw the ball’ but I thought Matt Sherburne threw a couple of key passes for us. I just think everybody played really well. I thought we played a very good game.”
Sherburne agreed with his coach.
“We pounded the ball every single time. Tyler did great. Payton and Jonah did great. Our backs were awesome,” said Sherburne. “It was a good win now we have to win the next one.”
With 5:05 left in regulation, Choate tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Baird to create the final 41-22 score.
The Warriors will compete for the regional championship next Saturday — and their head coach has a ton of confidence in his squad.
“That’s what we have here at Wells, we expect to win. That sounds really arrogant but it is what we expect. We’re going to face a good team next week whether it’s Madison or Oak Hill but our expectation is to win the game. Whether we do or not, I don’t know but we’re going to bust our butt trying to,” said Roche.

Comments are not available on this story.