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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 26, 2017 1:00 am

Woodlan doomed by red-zone woes

Scored just once in 6 trips inside opponents' 20

Mark Ambrogi | For The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Woodlan coach Sherwood Haydock couldn't exactly pinpoint why it happened.

But it's easy to determine the main reason why Woodlan lost to Southridge.

The Class 2A No. 6 Warriors scored just once in six trips to the red zone in a 15-14 loss to No. 5 Southridge Saturday afternoon in the 2A state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“They were just making plays,” Haydock said. “One time we tried to pound it through, one time we tried to throw it through, one time we tried a field goal (a missed 22-yard attempt). One time I tried more of a trick play. We tried a little bit of everything. They did a good job, but all we had to do was score one more out of those six.

One issue is the Warriors weren't able to a mount a consistent running attack.

“Inside the tackles we couldn't run at all,” Haydock said. “We started going outside the tackles and had a success a little bit. We would get inside the 20 and all of sudden we'd be in a second-and-9.”

The Warriors, who held a 362-274 edge in total yards, were 5 of 11 on fourth down conversions and 2 of 16 on third-down conversions. Woodlan punted only once.

“We had so many opportunities to score in the red zone, we just couldn't get it in,” senior receiver Ah'Lan Howard said. “It would have been a different game if we could have scored down there. But lesson learned.”

Senior quarterback Justin Durkes said Southridge's defense

“They started sending more guys in and it was hard for our line to get adjusted to it,” said Durkes, who completed 14 of 30 passes for 206 yards with two interceptions. “We kind of figured it out the last drive.”

Durkes connected with Howard on a 13-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-6 play to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead.

Senior running back Jack Rhoades agreed the Raiders pressure was a key factor.

“They blitzed a lot when we were in the 20-yard line,” Rhoades said. “They stopped the run more than other team we played. We weren't expecting that, and we passed more than usual.”

Rhoades led the Warriors with 71 yards on 21 carries, a 3.4 average. Entering the game, Rhoades had gained 2,089 yards on 270 attempts for a 7.74 yards per carry average.

Southridge coach Scott Buening said the game was won on guts.

“Our defense kept us in it,” Buening said. “They were on the field for so long.”

The Warriors had a 6 1/2 minutes in time of possession.

“We played some pretty good offenses throughout the year and one thing we really try to hammer home with our guys is just keep them out of the end zone,” Buening said. “If they kick a field goal or they got to go for it on fourth down, stay resilient and keep them out and maybe good things will happen. As well as our defense played, we couldn't flip the field (position). When we did, we made mistakes offensively. A lot of that is credit to Woodlan and their defense. But when it came down to it, guys just kept playing and making plays.”

Buening said there were long periods when his offense couldn't get in a rhythm.

“It's like a pitcher when he doesn't have his best stuff and still find a way to win,” he said. “Those guys did that (Saturday).”