APEX — The school forced to wait by man and weather until September to open its football season might finally be catching up with some mid-season form.
Apex, playing only its fourth game of the year while others are into their sixth week, gained its first victory with a 22-7 win over Green Hope Friday night at Cougar Stadium.
"Waiting for that first game was probably longer that was tough, said veteran Apex coach Bob Wolfe. But this was a good win for the boys. They did a good job. The coaching staff did a good. It was a good win all the way around.
Apex improved to 1-3 overall as well as in Tri-Nine Conference play. Green Hope dropped to 2-4 and 0-3.
A scheduling problem kept Apex from finding an opponent the first week of the season on Aug. 19 and then Hurricane Irene wiped out the second game on Aug. 26.
"We played pretty well that first game, even against a team that had already played two games, Wolfe said. In fact, we played well the first game and a half, but then not so well the next game and a half. But now we're starting to come back.
Apex also turned the clock back in another way, calling on a rarely seen free kick for a field goal just before half time.
With Green Hope forced to punt from inside its 20-yard line in the final seconds, Wolfe instructed quarterback Donte Smalls to call for a fair catch on the return. He caught the ball at the Green Hope 37-yard line, and from there Alex Calogero was permitted to tee up a field goal.
With Calogero's strong leg, 37 yards against no defense was basically a chip shot. He split the uprights by 20 yards for a 16-7 halftime lead.
"It was still pressure, Calogero said. But the credit goes to the defense for holding them to the 37-yard line and Donte for making the fair catch. He had the whole Green Hope team running at him. I would have dropped it.
One of the game officials walked off the field saying he'd never officiated a game with a free kick, but Wolfe was prepared. He has had his team practice the play for 15 years.
"We had one other chance to do it about eight or nine years ago, Wolfe said. But it was a 60-yard kick and it was about 5 yards short.
The game's scoring opened with Apex cashing in on Green Hope fumble on the Falcons' first offensive play.
The Cougars took over at the Green Hope's 26-yard line and scored six players later on a 1-yard dive on third-and-goal by Smalls with 7:11 left in the first quarter.
Christian Owens caught a 27-yard pass from Smalls on fourth-and-7 to give the Cougars a 13-0 lead with 10:02 left in the second quarter.
Green Hope's first touchdown trimmed the deficit to 13-7 on a 31-yard pass to Eddie Auslander from Chris Tutweiler.
Small scored the game's final points when he broke off an 89-yard run midway through the third quarter.