Everyone talks about the storybook ending, but Woodland showed on Friday night that a storybook beginning can be just as sweet.
Woodland took the lead on a late 60-yard touchdown pass, then iced the game with an interception on the game’s penultimate possession to secure a 20-16 victory over Fayetteville in the season-opener for both teams. It was the best possible way to start a season for a program that has been starving for moments to celebrate.
“It was a great, great win for our program and for our kids and for our community,” said Woodland head coach Blair Armstrong Tuesday morning. “They had a real happy weekend.”
Woodland’s late-game heroics came from a pair of seniors who will be cornerstone figures to the team this year.
Quarterback Brock Edwards connected with tight end Matthew Butler on a 60-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter to put Woodland ahead, then Edwards came away with game-sealing interception on defense with just over a minute to play.
“They’re really, really good football players. Very unselfish. Leaders on and off the field. Just good kids,” Armstrong said. “Our whole team really looks up to those guys. They set a really good benchmark for what a leader’s supposed to be and what a team player is supposed to be. We knew they were going to be two of our most experienced senior players, so it’s been real fun with them being out there for us and being great examples for the rest of the team.”
The game-winning play was set up by a Woodland offense that had attempted just three other passes the entire night up to that point.
“As time goes on the corners creep up tighter and tighter because we’re moving the football real well,” Armstrong said. “They want to get in there to help stop the run, so they kind of forget about what their real assignment is, which is don’t get beat deep.”
Edwards gave a play-action fake to play into that approach, then Butler got behind his man on a corner route.
“He just ran a corner route and came open,” Armstrong said. “It was a beautiful throw, beautiful route. And the run after catch was probably 20 or 30 yards. We thought the guy might catch him, but no, no, no. He wasn’t going to get caught.”
Edwards and running back Parker Woodham helped make that play fake more effective with their productive night on the ground. Edwards led the Bobcats with 101 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while Woodham ran 20 times for a hard 62 yards.
Edwards completed just two passes out of four attempts, but both of those completions went for touchdowns. The first was a 33-yard strike to another senior, receiver Dalton Bolan, in the first half.
Woodland carried a 14-0 advantage in the halftime locker room, but the Bobcats weren’t able to hold onto that lead.
“I think there was just a little too much confidence that we were up 14-0,” Armstrong said. “So we came out a little flat and didn’t play as well in the third quarter, and they came back and went up on us 16-14. It looked kind of dim there for a little bit, but our kids just kept fighting and fighting and fighting.”
Woodland will travel to RCHS to take on the Tigers this Friday.