Habersham’s kicking woes thrash playoff hopes in gut-wrenching loss [VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS]
Habersham Central desperately needed a win, but came up empty Friday night in its final home game of the season. The Raiders (3-6; 0-4) suffered a gut-wrenching 41-40 loss to Winder-Barrow (3-5; 2-2), squashing any playoff hopes. While Habersham held a 13-0 lead, and had at least a share of the lead in every quarter of play, it was three missed extra points, including one that could have tied the game with under a minute to go, that proved the difference.
The Raiders opened it up with a bang, going up 13-0. Joshua Pickett took the opening kickoff all the way to the 12-yard line. Jackson Clouatre pounded it in from a yard out. The missed PAT made it 6-0 with just 11:33 left in the first. On the next possession, Habersham again found the end zone by way of a Ryte Woodruff TD pass from about 40 yards out to Pickett, who, after the catch, made an outstanding effort to find his way across the pylon.
The 13-0 lead with 8:30 to go lasted just a couple of minutes. Jhaydon Sullivan connected on a big pass play to Brett Landis, then took it the rest of the way himself for a 1-yd TD to cut the deficit to 13-7. He struck again in the second with 3:18 on the clock with a 28-yd TD run, defying all would-be tacklers. The missed extra point knotted the game at 13, which kept through the break. Habersham had opportunities in Winder territory in the first half, but twice were turned over on downs, failing from the 13-yd line and 36-yd line.
The Raiders re-took sole possession of the lead with 9:53 left in the third when Woodruff scored on a keeper from 11 yards out. Again the extra point missed, making it 19-13. Habersham got the ball back, but fumbled deep in their own territory. Sullivan then threw an interception to Grayson Taylor, his first of the season. However, the Raiders would stall on the drive, leading to the Bulldoggs notching a third rushing score for Sullivan, as he scampered up the middle for 19 yards. That gave the visitors a slim 20-19 lead with 5:34 to go in the third.
The see-saw battle continued, as Woodruff kept for a 58-yd TD, and kept again for a 2-point conversion with 3:47 left in the third, which gave the Raiders a 27-20 lead. The wild third quarter, consisting of 35 points between the two teams, saw the Bulldoggs score and tie it up with 1:13 left on a Chandler Maxwell 4-yd TD. After the Raiders fumbled away the ensuing kick, Winder scored to finish off the third with Sullivan’s fourth TD of the night, this time from a yard out to give Winder a 34-27 lead.
The Raiders bounced back early in the fourth on Woodruff’s 5-yard TD run, his third of the night. However, the visitors again regained the lead just two minutes later on a JC Green 5-yard TD to go up 41-34 with 7:41 remaining. Both teams traded empty drives before Habersham got one last crack at it with 2:53 to go. Converting a fourth down and taking advantage of a pair of penalties, Woodruff tallied his fourth rushing score to pull within 41-40. However, the third extra point attempt to fail was the most pivotal, as Winder recovered the ensuing onside kick and took a knee for the win.
Habersham came in tied with Apalachee for 5th in the region, while Winder was holding the fourth spot down prior to kickoff. The Bulldoggs outperformed their scoring average 23.3 points per game, as did Habersham (22.4). However, both teams allowed more than they usually do (Winder, 28.3 & Habersham, 31.5).
Woodruff’s passing touchdown was his 10th of the season, and his four rushing scores gave him 10 there as well, for a total of 20. Clouatre and Pickett both notched their 6th TDs.
The loss makes Habersham 16-9 all time against Winder in a series that dates back to 1984.
Digital Copy of Game Highlights – Habersham vs Winder
Digital Copy of Game Highlights - Habersham vs Winder