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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Woodlan’s Jack Rhoades, top, jumps over Eastbrook’s Andrew Barajas and runs ahead of Eastbrook’s Jakob Donaldson during the first quarter during a Class 2A semistate Friday.  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The team celebrates with fans after Woodlan won the I.H.S.A.A. Semi-State game against Eastbrook on Friday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Woodlan's Daniel Herschberger, left, hugs teammate Corey Bennett after Woodlan won a Class 2A semistate Friday.  

Friday, November 17, 2017 11:40 pm

WOODLAN 15, EASTBROOK 14

Warriors headed to state finals

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

MARION – Woodlan kicker Luke Crilly knew walking onto the field the ball was going in even before his team lined up on a fourth-and-goal with 1.5 seconds left.

A 28-yarder went through the uprights as time expired to lift the Warriors 15-14 over top-ranked Eastbrook in a Class 2A semistate Friday.

“We came out there, they called timeout twice, (coach Sherwood) Haydock comes out, ‘We have a trick play, it’s wide open, are you going to make this?’ I said, ‘I got this.’ It’s an unbelievable feeling. I knew it was going in,” Crilly said.

It is the Warriors’ first state finals appearance since a runner-up finish in 1981. Woodlan will face the winner of today’s southern semistate between Indianapolis Scecina (12-1) and Southridge (11-2) at noon Nov. 25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in the 2A state championship game.

Woodlan (12-2) capitalized on three fumble recoveries, limited Eastbrook (13-1), which averaged 51 points in the first 13 games, to just 14 minutes of possession time and four first downs.

“Our defense was outstanding and we only got one touchdown on our defense,” Haydock said. “Their defense was pretty good but we had the drives when we needed them. (Running back) Jack (Rhoades) came up big and (quarterback) Justin (Durkes) came up big on that last series with his legs.

“We switched our defense this week. We made an adjusted 5-3 that (Eastbrook) never figured out. That 22 (Andrew Barajas) is pretty good. We knew he was going to get his yardage; we just had to keep him out of the end zone, and we did enough times.”

The Warriors scored on an 8-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 15-yard scoring run by Rhoades with 3:53 left in the second quarter to go into halftime up 6-0.

“I think that (halftime lead) was a big game-changer for us,” Durkes said. “It really changed the flow of the game. They came back in the second half and put up 14 points so for us to put up six more points and a field goal ... I’m still at a loss for words.

“We thought we were going to hold them to two or three touchdowns, and we thought we were going to win and that’s exactly what our defense did.”

In the third, Clay Dalton returned an interception for the Panthers with 3:15 left in the quarter to go up 7-6, and Barajas put Eastbrook up 14-6 with 11:45 left in the fourth after a two-play drive with runs of 61 and five yards.

Durkes connected with Ah’Lan Howard with 5:52 left for a touchdown, but a failed two-point conversion meant the Warriors trailed 14-12. They recovered their onside kick, turned the ball over on downs with 4:18 to go but recovered a fumble on their own 36 with 2:54.

“We knew we didn’t want to pass it,” Haydock said of the final drive. ‘They were bringing somebody off the edge so we started cross-facing and they would go with Jack and J.D. (Durkes) would get some running yardage. He felt really bad after he threw that pick-six so he came back and threw a touchdown pass and moved us down field but man, we had turnovers right when we needed them.”

Durkes completed 7 of 17 passes for 77 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. Rhoades ran 35 times for 145 yards.

Barajas ran 14 times for the Panthers for 137 of the team’s 160 offensive yards, all rushing. Barajas also led the team with 11 tackles and three tackles for a loss.

areichel@jg.net