Woodland senior quarterback Brock Edwards has seen the years come and go as a member of the Bobcats varsity football program. And each year that he has been a part of that program, Woodland has lost to Ranburne.
Until Friday night.
Edwards rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, the last of which came in the victory formation to close out a thrilling 20-19 Woodland win. It's the first victory for Woodland against its rivals to the north since 2011, ending a 9-game losing streak.
“I've been waiting for this since my seventh grade year,” Edwards said. “We've all been working for this. Everybody deserves credit. It's amazing.”
In a well-played game that featured no turnovers and just two punts (one by each team), it may have been the fingertips of Woodland's Lukea Brown that proved to be the difference in the score. Brown deflected the extra point attempt of Ranburne kicker Cade Mitchell to prevent what would have been the game-tying point with 6:30 left in the game, keeping Woodland narrowly ahead 20-19.
After that, Ranburne never got the ball back.
On the ensuing possession Woodland put the ball in Edwards's capable hands, and he orchestrated a methodical drive that drained every one of those 390 remaining seconds and set off a jubilant celebration among the Woodland players and coaches.
“The streak is over,” Edwards said. “It's a new Woodland.”
It's hard to argue that last point given that the Bobcats are now 3-2 at the halfway point of the season and look every bit the part of a true contender in their region. Woodland hasn't won more than three games since 2014, the last time it reached the playoffs. That was two coaches and seemingly a lifetime ago.
But now head coach Blair Armstrong seemingly has the program back on the map, and nothing backs that up more that Friday night's win.
Armstrong put together a game plan to shorten the game and keep Ranburne's potent, pass-based offense off the field, and that plan worked to perfection.
Ranburne scored first and went up 7-0 on 6-yard touchdown pass from Jaxon Langley to Tyler Craft.
But Woodland answered right back, and perhaps more importantly, took its sweet time to do so. The Bobcats loaded up behind Edwards and running back Parker Woodham for an 8-play drive that covered 48 yards and ate up 5:30 of the first quarter. That drive ended with a 3-yard Woodham touchdown to cut the Ranburne lead to 7-6.
Prior to every play Woodland intentionally stayed in the huddle until about 15 seconds left on the play clock and snapped the ball with around five seconds to go. That strategy limited both teams' possessions in the first half. Ranburne and Woodland each possessed the ball just twice apiece through the first 22:40 of the first half. Ranburne scored again on a 14-yard pass from Langley to Mitchell with 9:59 left in the second quarter to take a 13-6 lead.
Woodland again went on the march, but it looked like Ranburne might break serve after three straight Woodland penalties put the Bobcats in a first-and-35 from their own 45-yard line.
But Edwards completed his first two passes in the most opportune fashion, both going to Guy McManus for a total of 31 yards to give them the improbable first down. Three plays later Edwards broke through the line and scampered 16 yards for his first touchdown to tie the score 13-13 going into halftime.
The teams swapped punts to start the second half, including Woodland's defense forcing the only 3-and-out of the game for either team.
But the ensuing Ranburne punt put Woodland on its own 9-yard line to start the possession. Woodland went to the air to get out of that hole, and got a pass interference and a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Ranburne on the same play. That 30-yard assessment jump-started the drive and led to Edwards scoring the go-ahead touchdown from 27 yards out on a fourth-and-4 play.
Woodham finished with with 68 yards and a touchdown on 18 tough, between-the-tackles carries.
Edwards and Woodham combined to account for 186 of Woodland's 243 yards.
Langley was on point for Ranburne all night as he completed 14-of-19 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 77 yards and another score.
Woodland will look to end another long losing streak next week when they host Wadley. Woodland has not beaten Wadley since 2014, a string of five straight losses in that rivalry.
Handley 6, Lanett 3 (OT)
RCHS 26, Wadley 6
Pleasant Grove 37, Clay Central 30
Look for full coverage of all of these games in next week's print edition of the Randolph Leader.