The Wildcats, who were knocked out of the state tournament by the Railroaders a year ago, rallied for a 21-16 win in a first-round playoff game.
A one-yard touchdown run by Tanner Hughes with just 45 seconds left in the contest lifted the hosts to the victory in a Class 3-A Sectional 18 contest.
Whitko, which improves to 4-6 with the win, advances to play at No. 1 Jimtown (10-0) next Friday night in a sectional semifinal game. The Jimmies defeated Fort Wayne Concordia 42-20 Friday night. Garrett, which beat Whitko 42-14 in a sectional semifinal in 2011, finishes at 7-3.
The Wildcats trailed 9-7 after the opening quarter Friday night and 16-14 at halftime. The hosts held Garrett scoreless the second half and won on Hughes’ touchdown. His game winning score capped a 14-play, 81-yard drive by Whitko.
Whitko rushed for 266 yards in the victory. Sophomore Devin Gerding led the way with 14 carries for 156 yards. Gerding scored on a 76-yard run for Whitko’s first score.
The Wildcats also got a 53-yard touchdown toss from Alex Stoddard to Conner Stouder in the second stanza. It was the lone reception of the game for Stouder, but a huge one for the hosts.
Quarterback Stoddard was 5-11 passing for 89 yards for the Wildcats.
Hughes, also a sophomore, had 19 carries for 72 yards for coach Wayne Swender’s squad.