The Woodland Bobcats were full of surprises on homecoming night against Victory Christian, and now the 'Cats are headed back to the playoffs for a second straight season.
Woodland came out in brand new dark gray jerseys, then took an early lead on just its second touchdown pass of the season on their way to a crucial 14-6 win over Victory Christian Friday in Woodland.
Woodland quarterback Jackson Lovvorn came into the game having completed just eight passes all season, with only one of those going for a touchdown. But about mid-way through the first quarter Lovvorn connected with Tate Bradford on a 66-yard strike that put Woodland ahead 7-0.
As it turns out that was all the points the Bobcats would need.
Victory Christian answered with a short touchdown run early in the second quarter but failed on its PAT to leave Woodland ahead 7-6.
The Bobcats added some insurance just before halftime thanks to a 3-yard touchdown run by Parker Woodham that made the score 14-6. And that did it for the scoring, as the defenses dominated the final two quarters.
It was a big night for Woodham, who finished with 108 yards and the touchdown and was also elected homecoming king by his classmates.
Woodland will be in the playoffs for the second straight season as the Bobcats hold all the necessary tiebreakers to get them at least the No. 4 seed. There is a very slim chance – but it is still in play - that Woodland could even move up to the No. 2 seed with a win next week against Winterboro.
The victory gives Woodland back-to-back wins for the first time this season and raises their record to 3-5.
(Taylor Jones contributed to this Woodland report.)
Anniston 28, Handley 27
A see-saw battle between two teams playing for first place came down to an attempted two-point conversion by Handley in the final two minutes. But Cannon Kyles's pass was batted down at the goal line and Handley's attempt at a comeback win fell short in a 28-27 loss to Anniston Friday in Roanoke.
That defeat is the first of the season for the Tigers and will almost certainly knock Handley out of the No 1 ranking in Class 4A. More importantly it leaves Handley tied with Anniston for first place in the region after the Tigers entered the game in position to win the region outright with a victory.
As it stands Handley can still be region champs, but they will need to beat White Plains and hope that Anniston loses next week against Cleburne County.
The lead changed hands five times in the game Friday, but Anniston got the one that counted on a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown by Love Kirby with 9:38 left in the game. That put Anniston ahead 28-21, stunning Handley, which entered the fourth quarter with a 21-14 lead.
Handley trailed 14-8 at halftime, with a 19-yard touchdown run by Tae Meadows accounting for the Tigers' only points. But Kyles provided an immediate spark in his first action at quarterback since the first half of the Munford game way back on September 3.
His first pass of the game came on a 3rd-and-25 play where he scrambled away from pressure, threw on the run, and found Jay Haynes in the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown pass. That play put a jolt into the Handley sideline and gave the Tigers a 15-14 lead.
That momentum carried over to the defense, which forced an Anniston fumble on the very next play, giving Handley a first down on the Anniston 35-yard line. The Tigers needed just four plays to pad their lead as Meadows once again found the end zone, this time from 17 yards out, and Handley led 21-14.
But Anniston dialed up something of a trick play for the second time in the game as threw a pass to big tight end Omarion Jones down the middle. Jones caught the ball around the 20-yard line and rumbled through the Handley secondary all the way to the end zone to tie the game at 21-21.
Later, trailing 28-21 after the fumble, Handley got one last shot, and again Kyles rose to the occasion. He hit Maurice Cameron down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-27 with 1:50 left to play. But the failed two-point conversion was Handley's last gasp, as Anniston ran out the clock on the ensuing possession.
Kyles finished with strong numbers, completing 4-of-6 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns in just under a quarter and a half of play. Meadows was held under 100 yards for the second straight game but he too had a solid night against a stingy Anniston defense. Meadows finished with 86 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Haynes was Handley's leading receiver with three catches for 61 yards.
Ranburne 30, Horseshoe Bend 28
Wadley 42, Donoho 0
Lanett 71, RCHS 8
Look for full coverage of all of these games in next week's print edition of the Randolph Leader.