Woodlawn’s running game and its timely defense are major reasons the Panthers won their fourth straight game with a 31-21 victory over visiting St. Martinville Friday night.

Senior Xavier Lodge rushed for two touchdowns and senior Chris Middleton scored on a 6-yard run with 4:07 remaining in the game to put Woodlawn up 31-21.

St. Martinville (2-3) had pulled within 24-21 after a six-play, 80-yard drive that ended on quarterback Markavon Williams’ 31-yard run. Williams was tackled at the end zone and fumbled. SMHS junior receiver Jamel Fontenette recovered the fumble in the end zone.

St. Martinville’s last possession ended when Williams was stopped for no gain twice on counter plays. Woodlawn senior inside linebacker Talbot Daniels made the stop on fourth down and Woodlawn took over with 2:12 remaining. Middleton rushed for a first down and the Panthers (4-1) were soon in victory formation.

Woodlawn’s rushers combined for 229 yards on 43 carries. Middleton gained 76 yards on 16 carries, Lodge had 69 yards on seven tries, Joshua London had 45 yards on 10 carries and quarterback Brian Byrd had 37 yards on nine carries.

“Our offensive line is getting better,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said. “This was the second game in a row with the same linemen in the same spots. Our running backs really played well. Chris Middleton is a really good running back and a physical runner. Xavier Lodge is one of the best players in Baton Rouge if not in the state.”

“We got down 14 points early,” St. Martinville coach Vincent DeRouen said. “Woodlawn runs the ball so well, we couldn’t stop them. It was a fast game. Woodlawn played very tough defense.”

Woodlawn’s Braylyn Jones had a 19-yard punt return to set up his team’s first deep drive. Byrd tossed a 24-yard pass to Bryson Reaser. On fourth down, Tyrell Smith was stopped short and SMHS took over at its own 1-yard line.

Travien Benjamin, who led the Tigers with 66 yards rushing on 22 carries, fumbled at his 28-yard line. Daniels recovered for Woodlawn. Lodge carried four straight times and scored on a 1-yard run to put the Panthers up 7-0.

Woodlawn’s defense forced a quick punt. On the first play, Bryd tossed a deep ball to Evan Puckett for a 61-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 3:45 remaining.

St. Martinville put together an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Benjamin scored on a 2-yard run with 25 seconds remaining as Woodlawn led 14-7 at the half.

Woodlawn drove 45 yards in seven plays with Lodge scoring on a 5-yard run with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter.

St. Martinville came back with an eight-play, 50-yard drive. Williams tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Kyron Comeaux to cut the deficit to 21-7.

St. Martinville lined up to punt on its next possession but the snap was way over the punter’s head. That set up a 43-yard field goal by Jacob Barnes with 11:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Fontenette had six catches for 103 yards for the Tigers. Puckett had two catches for 67 yards for the Panthers.