Two teams with little to no playoff hopes battled to the very end of their season as Woodlawn High School rallied to beat McKinley 23-20 at on Friday night at Woodlawn.
Trailing 16-12 with 5:59 left in the game, McKinley took the ball on its own 40-yard line and marched 60 yards in 13 plays before workhorse running back Lenard Tillery bulled in from 1 yard out.
Quarterback Jarred Hayes hit Marvin Batiste for the two-point conversion, and the visiting Panthers celebrated a 20-16 lead with 1:03 left.
That was more than enough time for the Panthers, however. Starting for their own 40, Woodlawn went to work quickly.
On first down, quarterback Kendall Barnes passed to running back Emmanuel Stewart for 24 yards. On the next play Barnes dropped back to pass before running for 15 yards. Finally, Barnes capped the drive when he ran in from four yards out. Jonathan Barnes’ extra point made the final score 23-20.
“If you’ve followed us this year, you know we can score,” Woodlawn coach Don Jones said. “Our defense made stops tonight and kept is in the game so we had the opportunity to score. But, if we get the ball with a minute and a timeout, we feel we can score.”
MHS didn’t go down without a fight. The visiting Panthers took the following kickoff to midfield. The Panthers ran two plays to get to the Woodlawn 33 before going for the end zone on a Hail Mary pass that Woodlawn’s Jamaal Lofton intercepted on the last play of the game.
Woodlawn (5-5, 2-3 District 5-5A) was led by Barnes, who had 195 yards passing, and Lofton with 67 yards rushing.
Lofton provided a first-half spark for the Panthers offense when he took a reverse 75 yards for a touchdown with 8:21 remaining. Before the big play, the Panthers were held to on 6 yards rushing and 58 yards passing by a stout McKinley defense.
“(That) big play killed us,” McKinley coach Robert Signater said. “We had them on third-and-forever and gave up a first down. We over-pursued on an end-around and they scored. I think the future looks bright for McKinley football. We lost two games by one point and this one by three points. If we stop a play here or there, we have a winning record.”
McKinley defensive back Brandon Surtain had two interceptions in the first half.
Woodlawn had a second-down-and-goal from the McKinley 2, when Kendall Barnes fired a pass over the middle that was tipped, and Surtain snagged it out of the air and ran it back 36 yards.
McKinley (4-6, 1-4), opened the scoring when quarterback Jarred Hayes hit Cody Swain on a quick slant on the right side of the field. Swain juked, jived and broke several tackles on the way to a 45-yard TD. The run for two failed. However, the Panthers were up 6-0.
McKinley was led by Tillery, who had 146 yards rushing on 31 carries and Hayes who had 202 yards passing. Swain finished with 131 receiving yards.