In a game chock full of offensive fireworks, it was a last-minute defensive play that sealed the deal for Woodlawn High.
With the Panthers clinging to a 39-33 lead, St. Amant had a fourth-and 4 at the WHS 24-yard line with 40 seconds left in the game.
The Gators handed the ball to Trey Washington, who had 122 yards on 10 carries, on its bread-and-butter play of the game - an off-tackle run to the left side. This time, however, Woodlawn defensive back Devante Davis blew through the line and dropped Washington behind the line of scrimmage.
Woodlawn (3-4, 1-1 District 5-5A) took over and kneeled until time ran out.
“It may not look like it, but our defensive made key plays when we needed them and made a key play at the end,” said Woodlawn coach Don Jones. “Devante put the icing on the cake. Our team needed this.”
WHS quarterback Kendall Barnes ran for 66 yards, threw for 117 and completed an important two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense went out and stepped up,” Barnes said. “We need that. I made mistakes. We made mistakes. I’m proud of my teammates.”
Woodlawn exploded for 25 points in the second half to win a hard-fought, back-and-forth game.
The Panthers were led by Emmanuel Stewart, who had 77 yards on seven carries with two touchdowns. Kenneth Collins had 74 yards on 10 carries and touchdown. Brent Terrance had two touchdowns on two carries - a 30-yard score and a 4-yard score.
“We came out in the third quarter, and it was important to get a score,” James said. “Terrance took that ball up the middle for the touchdown. That was big.”
St. Amant coach David Oliver recognized the big plays on both sides, but that Woodlawn had just enough to earn the win. The Gators fell to 4-3, 0-2.
“They made key plays when they had to,” Oliver said. “We put ourselves in position to win the game at the end, but they made the big defensive play. We had a chance to stop them, they made key plays.”
Woodlawn scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:30 left in the game. The four-play, 54-yard drive was aided by two St. Amant penalties. But the big play was a 35-yard run by Collins that set up a Stewart 2-yard TD run. Barnes completed to two-point PAT pass to Deandre Cosby.
St. Amant took the opening kick and drove 70 yards for a touchdown. Washington burst through the middle of the line of scrimmage and scrambled 37 yards for the touchdown.
Gator defensive back Jonavon Lewis ruined Woodlawn’s attempt to counter when he intercepted a Kendall Barnes pass at the Woodlawn 41-yard line. Seven plays later, quarterback Tyler Guillory found Ryan Cardinale for a 10-yard TD reception. Guillory’s extra point made it 14-0.
Woodlawn struggled to get an offensive drive together and had yet to stop the St. Amant offense.
However, trailing 14-0 with 6:05 left in the first quarter, the Panthers came on strong with a seven-play, 60-yard drive that ended when Collins bulled in from the 3-yard line.
The touchdown was set up when quarterback Kendall Barnes hooked up with Doss Berry on a 44-yard pass on third and 10 from the Gator 47-yard line.
The Gators expanded their lead when they put together a 14-play drive of 66 yards. Guillory ran for 25 yards and passed for 11 yards as the Gators tromped downfield. The final yardage came on a 6-yard toss to Alexis Jackson.
Trailing 21-7, Woodlawn got back in the game when Terrance caught a 4-yard pass from Kendall Barnes. Jonathan Barnes’ PAT made it 21-14.