Amid the high fives and sounds of celebration as Woodland gathered around head coach Joel Schrenk after Thursday’s football game at Fayetteville, one unidentified voice rose above the others.
“God, I love winning!” the voice said.
Those words most certainly verbalized the thoughts of everyone in that huddle after Woodland rallied from a two touchdown deficit in the second quarter to claim a 35-27 win and keep its playoff hopes alive going into the final two weeks of the season.
David Noles ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and Malakai Drummond added 22 carries for 116 yards and a score as Woodland outscored Fayetteville 28-6 after falling behind 21-7 in the second quarter.
It was not an auspicious start for ‘Cats, whose defense provided little resistance on Fayetteville’s first two drives of the game as the Wolves took a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. Then things went from tenuous to the brink of disaster for Woodland after the Wolves turned a strip sack into a scoop and score and made it 21-7 with 8:10 remaining in the first half.
But Braydan Yates, the backup quarterback who was the victim of that strip sack, did not let it affect his composure the rest of the game. In just the second start of his career after season-ending injury to starter Callen Gay, Yates connected with Bradley Brasher on touchdown passes of 58 and 65 yards in the second quarter, and Woodland trimmed the lead to 27-21 at halftime.
But that score was not indicative of the recovery that Woodland’s defense made after those first two drives. Fayetteville’s final two touchdowns came on the aforementioned strip sack and as a result of a short field following another Woodland fumble.
Once Woodland washed the butter off of their fingers at halftime the Bobcats took control of the game.
Woodland took its first lead on the opening possession of the second half when Noles got his own dose of redemption for an earlier fumble as he broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown that put Woodland up 28-27.
From that point on Fayetteville’s second half offensive possession results went punt, interception, muffed punt return, lost fumble and turnover on downs. The last one came as Fayetteville was in desperation mode late in the game trying to drive for a game-tying touchdown. But Woodland came up with the fourth down stop on its own 19-yard line to secure the third win of the season for the ‘Cats.
Yates finished 4-for-9 for 145 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. And Brasher caught the two long touchdown passes and was responsible of one of the two Woodland interceptions.
Asa Burge had the other pick for the Bobcats, who forced a total of four turnovers. Tobin Pinkard had a fumble recovery for Woodland as well.
The win kept Woodland’s slim playoff hopes alive for at least another week and officially eliminated Fayetteville from postseason contention. The Bobcats need to beat Isabella next week and get some help elsewhere if they are going to grab the fourth playoff spot out of 2A, Region 4.
Woodland is now 3-5 on the season.