By Drew Goodman / Scrimmagaplaycva.com contributor
With four decades on the sidelines at Powhatan High School, you would think that Indians’ head coach Jim Woodson had faced nearly every tough decision countless times during his impeccable run.
As it turns out, however, prior to Friday night’s Jefferson District clash with Albemarle, Woodson had seldom stared down the dilemma of going for the tie or the win in an overtime setting.
With his team trailing 20-19 in the extra period after an incredibly close play at the goal line was ruled a touchdown by Jacob Taylor, Woodson elected to send his special teams unit onto the field to extend the game into a second overtime.
The aggressive Albemarle front-line had already blocked one extra point in the fourth quarter, and would do the same on the attempted game-tying try, which sent the Albemarle sideline into a frenzy.
But an ill-timed running-into-the-kicker flag put a halt to the Patriots’ celebration, and gave Woodson one more chance to try something bold in his second-to-last regular season game ever.
This time around, the soon-to-be-outgoing Powhatan head coach called on his offense to punch it in from the one yard-line to win the game.
“I haven’t been in that situation that often, but with that penalty, it cut it in half, and I said, ‘What the hell, let’s go for it.’ ‘Let’s have fun… I only got one more regular season game, what the heck, I gotta go out smoking.’” Woodson said with a laugh.
Woodson’s call proved to be the right one.
Facing a crowded line of scrimmage, Woodson dialed up a quarterback sneak, and senior signal caller Jacob Moss inched his way into the end zone to give the Indians a thrilling 21-20 triumph in A-Town.
Friday’s defeat marked Albemarle’s third connective one-point decision, but it was the first time that the Patriots had been on the wrong end of a close game.
“Tough game tonight; a lot left to be desired with that ending, but that’s the game,” Albemarle head coach Brandon Isaiah said. “We’ve won games like that before, so we just have to lick the wounds and move on.”
After finally entering the win column against Monticello in week five, AHS (4-5) has been living on the edge as of the late, but the Patriots have always seemed to find a way to rally in the end.
On Friday against Powhatan, Albemarle faced a fourth quarter deficit for the fourth time in as many weeks.
The Patriots grabbed the lead on the first play of the second quarter, when quarterback DaQuandre Taylor polished off a methodical drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
Though it had kept the Powhatan offense at bay for the majority of the contest, the Indians finally broke loose in the fourth quarter. Workhorse running back Jacob Taylor raced 33 yards for a touchdown to give the Indians their first lead of the contest with 8:48 remaining in regulation.
On the Indians’ next offensive series, Jacob Taylor, who led all rushers with 129 yards and a pair of touchdowns, then took advantage of a gashed Albemarle defense and drove the ball all the way to the AHS 15-yard line.
The Indians had a chance to ice the game on a fourth down attempt with less than three minutes remaining, but senior Marquan Jones came up with a huge fumble recovery, which gave DaQuandre Taylor and the offense one more chance to either tie or win the game.
A perfect blend between the run and the pass moved the ball to the Powhatan 22 yard-line. With 1.9 seconds left in regulation Isiah turned to the reliable leg of Yousef Alburi to send the game into overtime on a 39-yard field goal attempt.
Algburi, who had already connected on a 32-yarder with 1.4 seconds remaining in the first half, calmly drilled the game-tying kick to send the Jefferson District battle into overtime.
“Yousef has been doing great for us,” Isaiah said. “He’s only a junior, so he’s going to continue to get better. We put ourselves in that situation where we could kick that field goal and everybody believed in it, and he made it.”
The Patriots struck first in overtime on a nifty nine-yard grab in the endzone by Myles Ward.
The good news kept on coming for the home team when a five-yard penalty on the ensuing extra point resulted in the Indians needing five extra yards to tie the game when it was their turn on offense.
After getting stuffed for a short gain on first down, Jacob Taylor broke a nine-yard run on second down, and then two more on third to set up an all-important fourth-and-goal from the two-yardlne.
Woodson called upon Taylor again on fourth down, and the 5-foot-8 senior barely crossed the goal-line to set up the eventual two-point conversion.
“It’s a bad feeling to lose a game like that in that moment,” Isaiah said.
Prior to the one-point setback, the Patriots honored a large senior class at midfield with that included playmakers on both offense and defense.
The class of 2018 has seen nothing but playoff appearances during their time at Albemarle High School, including a Jefferson District title two years ago. Following the defeat, Isaiah spoke highly of his upperclassmen, and is excited to share of the field of battle with them for at least one more game.
“Those boys, they’ve been laying their heart for this program since they got here,” Isaiah said. “I’m extremely proud of those boys. I love them and I hate that their seniors, but I couldn’t be prouder to coach them.”
Albemarle will close out the regular season in Crozet on Thursday, November 1 against Western Albemarle.