Warren Easton marched into Woodlawn looking to remain perfect, but the Panthers scored late in a back-and-forth contest to upset the visiting Eagles 28-21.
Warren Easton (3-1) had made a name for itself as a high-scoring squad— and was nationally ranked — after three games. After downing St. Amant, West Jefferson and Carver by a combined score of 154-52, the Eagles rolled onto Woodlawn’s campus looking to maintain their dominance.
The Panthers didn’t give the visiting team a chance to breathe early. Woodlawn (3-1) scored first with 5:53 left in the first quarter after a meticulous drive by senior quarterback Charles Brooks. With the ball on the Eagles’ 10-yard line, Sullivan rolled to his left before firing a strike to junior receiver Taj Sullivan, who strolled in untouched.
Then the defenses began to turn the tide of the contest.
Both squads mustered fourth-down stops, including a Warren Easton goal-line stand on the 1-yard line.
Neither team found offensive production until there was 6:18 remaining in the second quarter. With Woodlawn looking for a spark, Brooks took the contest into his own hands — or, more accurately, his legs.
Brooks found a hole in the offensive line, burst through, broke one tackle and outran the defense for a 72-yard touchdown, giving the Panthers a 13-point lead.
In the first half alone, Woodlawn rushed for 195 yards. Warren Easton’s primary offensive production came from senior wideout Tyron Johnson, ranked the No. 2 receiver recruit in the nation by Rivals. Johnson finished the first half with six catches for 118 yards.
But Johnson wasn’t anywhere near finished.
The 6-foot-1, 191-pound receiver caught consecutive passes for 42 and 33 yards, the second in the end zone to put Warren Easton on the board early in the third quarter.
Eagles senior quarterback Deshawn Capers-Smith had more in store in the third quarter. Capers-Smith, who entered the game in the second quarter, fired a dart to Brooks, who moved to wide receiver, for a 24-yard score.
Capers-Smith proceeded to run up the middle to convert the two-point try, knotting the game at 14.
Woodlawn responded immediately as Brooks led the Panthers down the field, capping the drive with a 10-yard touchdown strike to Sullivan.
“(Brooks) really bounced back and had a big game this week,” Woodlawn coach Brett Beard said. “We honestly had our best week of practice. When you do that, you have a chance (to win) with a game plan in place.”
Capers-Smith broke runs of 45 and 18 yards, putting him in range of the end zone. He’d run the ball past the goal line to help tie the score at 21 with 9:43 remaining.
The roller-coaster second half never slowed.
With 6:11 remaining in the contest, Woodlawn’s Brooks found a hole in the offensive line inside the red zone, bursting through and giving the Panthers a lead they would not relinquish.
Beard called Friday night’s thriller a program-defining victory.
“These are the wins that we need at Woodlawn,” Beard said. “These kids need to beat teams like this so they understand what we’re doing and believe in it. They get that attitude now. When you have that, you have the chance to beat anybody.”