In a game filled with several onside kicks and five fumbles, Woodland came out on top, 28-12, over Horseshoe Bend on Friday night in the Generals’ last game of the season.
Although Horseshoe Bend suffered defeat for the ninth time this season, the Generals and their seniors showed fight until the final whistle blew.
“That’s something that we really harp on here is not quitting,” Horseshoe Bend coach Jeremy Phillips said. “I think that our guys are really buying into that aspect of playing ball. I’m pleased with that no matter the score.”
Horseshoe Bend opened the game with the first of several onside kicks both teams attempted on the night. Initially recovered by the Generals, it was then ruled an illegal touch that handed the ball to Woodland at the 50-yard line.
Nonetheless, the Generals wanted the ball and the defense took matters into its own hands. On just the third play from scrimmage, the Horseshoe Bend defense broke through the backfield and stripped the ball from Woodland quarterback Jackson Lovvorn.
Horseshoe Bend senior Wes Young pounced on the ball as a pile-up formed around midfield. Young then popped up from the pile, ran about 15 yards downfield and extended his arm in a motion to signal it was indeed Horseshoe Bend’s ball.
The two teams exchanged possessions with little success offensively, before Horseshoe Bend began moving the ball on its second drive. A physical rushing attack by the Generals pushed the ball from the Horseshoe Bend 39-yard line all the way inside the Woodland 10-yard line over a span of nine plays.
It looked as if the Generals were on pace to put points on the board until a botched snap left the football on the ground and up for grabs. Unfortunately for Horseshoe Bend, the visiting team in white picked up the football.
The Bobcats went three-and-out after the fumble, thanks to a strong defensive play by Horseshoe Bend’s Dewey Freeman. The junior burst through the line and laid a hard hit on Lovvorn, which left the Bobcats with a long third down deep in their own territory. Woodland did not convert and the first quarter ended with goose eggs on the scoreboard for both teams.
Momentum from the stop carried over on offense for Horseshoe Bend, as it capitalized on a short field with a touchdown. A five-play, 31-yard drive ended in six points when Rylan Sharpe punched it in from one yard out. The Generals went up 6-0 with 9:05 remaining until halftime.
“Very scrappy, very good football team,” Woodland head coach Blair Armstrong said about Horseshoe Bend. “Their record may not indicate it, but if you watch the film on them they’re a very good football team.”
Woodland answered with its own score and a successful two-point conversion to take the lead. Junior running back Parker Goodham had six straight rushes on the drive, highlighted by a 57-yard sprint to inside the Horseshoe Bend 15-yard line. He crossed the plains from one-yard out and converted the two-point conversion to put his team up 8-6.
Goodham finished the night with over 200 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
“He’s a hard worker,” Armstrong said. “He works hard in the weight room.”
The Bobcats were not done scoring in the first half, either. A successful onside kick after the score gave the ball back to Goodham and the offense.
They took advantage of it, adding another touchdown and two-point conversion with 2:18 remaining in the second quarter. Dalton Bolan scored from 9 yards out and Goodham scored the two-point conversion to take a 16-6 Bobcat lead into the half.
Woodland attempted several onside kicks, including one on the opening kickoff of the second half. The kick was initially successful but then ruled as Horseshoe Bend’s ball due to an illegal touching penalty.
The third quarter was relatively quiet, other than Goodham adding his second rushing touchdown of the night three minutes in. That was, until the final play of the quarter.
Horseshoe Bend’s Holt Tidwell took off for a 68-yard rush to end the third. His rush put the Generals inside the Woodland 10-yard line. The momentum of the run carried into the fourth quarter, as Chandler McMath scored a touchdown for Horseshoe Bend to bring the score to 22-12.
Tidwell had a team-high 129 yards rushing on 11 carries on the night.
“I thought he played well,” Phillips said. “He was really seeing the holes well (Friday night). I was really pleased with how he ran the ball.”
The Bobcats added another score with 7:19 remaining in the game to go up 28-12, the eventual final. Despite ending the season with a loss, Phillips was proud of his team’s season and especially the seniors.
“These guys really stuck it out with me,” Phillips said. “It could have been easy to just lay down and quit on me. They really helped lay a foundation this year of, ‘We’re going to give it our all every game and give it our best shot.”