Horseshoe Bend’s defense put together its best performance of the season in the team’s final game.
The Generals kept Woodland hemmed in and made key stops throughout a close contest, with senior linebacker Holt Tidwell and senior defensive back Luke Jones each coming through with interceptions in a 14-6 victory.
“It was a hard-fought game and we had to hang on there at the end to win,” Horseshoe Bend coach Jeremy Phillips said. “Those are the kind of games you’ve gotta have to build a program, to kind of get things going. I think it’s a good stepping stone into the offseason.”
As per most standout defensive performances in football, it started up front for Horseshoe Bend.
Woodland entered as a ground-and-pound offense with 2,355 rushing yards on the season as compared to just 258 through the air, meaning the Generals’ defensive line would be called upon to eat up running lanes and generate windows for linebackers to fill.
The quintet of Dewey Freeman, Jacob Turner, Taylor Humphrey, Calvin Mangram and Sawyer Smith did exactly that, Phillips said.
“I thought all of them played extremely well, holding their own against a run-heavy offense, and they had some big guys. They were able to stand their ground and let the linebackers run free and fly around and make plays.”
Ironically, the Bobcats’ lone score came on a deep passing play.
Horseshoe Bend’s offense kept it on the ground as well and found enough success to support its defense, gaining a 14-0 lead by the start of the fourth quarter.
Senior fullback Chandler McMath scored on the Generals’ first drive via a 30-yard touchdown run.
“It was kind of a standstill after that,” Phillips said. “Both defenses played very well, read their keys.”
Tidwell broke that stillness at the start of the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-11 play, breaking through Woodland’s front seven and streaking 25 yards for a score.
After the Generals’ second interception its offense needed to pick up a first down to eat up the remaining clock but fumbled at its own 45-yard-line up 14-6 with less than a minute to play.
Its defense once again made a stand, however, and Horseshoe Bend held on for the low-scoring victory.
“It was just a great all-around performance by the defense.”
With the season-closing win, Horseshoe Bend says goodbye to four seniors, all of which were two-way starters in 2021 including a few who started all four years of their respective high school careers.
The four players are Tidwell, Freeman, McMath and star running back and safety Gavin Brazzell.
“It’s great for our seniors to go out with a win,” Phillips said. “They never came off the field, pretty much, this whole game and they were integral parts of the win. They’ve all got bright futures ahead of them and I’m really proud.”