With his team up by a slim three-point margin late in the third quarter and struggling to move the ball, Perry Jones took matters into his own hands — and feet.
Oscar Smith's senior running back's 4-yard touchdown, set up by his 63-yard scamper, lifted the second-seeded Tigers to a 34-17 victory against seventh-seeded Woodside on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Division 6 Eastern Region playoffs.
"It was like a booster for us," said Jones, who had 362 of his team's 364 rushing yards and three touchdowns when he left the game with a minute to play. "We fed off of that, and it seemed like we played harder after that."
In the first half, Jones accounted for all 149 of Oscar Smith's positive rushing yards as touted quarterback Phillip Sims struggled to a 9-of-21, 26-yard, two-interception performance. Sims finally found his touch early in the fourth quarter, when his 33-yard delivery to Brandon Davis gave the Tigers a 27-10 lead.
Even that comfort zone was short-lived, though, as Brandon Burton hauled in a 71-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown catch that made it 27-17 with 8:51 to play.
Naturally, the Tigers turned to Jones, who accounted for all 65 of his team's yards on its next drive as Oscar Smith took a 34-17 lead on his third touchdown run.
"He's really good. We knew coming in — we compared him to (Hampton's) Tron Martinez," Woodside coach Danny Dodson said. "He's that kind of back. He's very, very quick. He runs hard. He's strong. We knew he was gonna be a tough one to deal with."
The Wolverines, down 13-7 at halftime, had a chance to take the lead on the first drive of the third quarter, but senior Christopher Willis dropped a 6-yard touchdown pass. Woodside settled for Chase Bradley's 21-yard field goal to pull within 13-10.
Woodside averted disaster on that drive just the way it did on its touchdown late in the second half. Evans, dropping back on third-and-goal from the 4, fumbled several yards behind the line of scrimmage, but senior tight end Michael Ruckman was there to scoop the ball up and get it back to the 4.
It was a replay of the game's biggest play for the Wolverines.
From his own 15-yard line, Evans, who threw for 166 yards and ran for 88, faked a handoff, cut inside and still was running 50 yards later when he fumbled at the Tigers' 35. But Ruckman, trailing the play, picked up the ball and took it the rest of the way to the end zone, cutting Oscar Smith's lead to 13-7 with 2:05 to play in the second quarter.
"I'm not sure many people gave us much of a chance to win this football game, but we believed we could," Dodson said. "We had a couple of opportunities we missed out on that might have changed the complexion of the game a little bit."
OSCAR SMITH 34, WOODSIDE 17Woodside 0737 — 17 Oscar Smith 67714 — 34 OS—Jones 20 run (kick blocked)
OS—Smith 58 interception return (Trotman kick)
W—Ruckman 35 fumble recovery (Bradley kick)
W—FG Bradley 21
OS—Jones 4 run (Trotman kick)
OS—Davis 33 pass from Smith (Trotman kick)
W—Burton 71 pass from Evans (Bradley kick)
OS—Jones 14 run (Trotman kick)
WOSFirst downs7 16Rushes-yards24-16429-374Passing yards16669Comp-Att-Int13-25-111-25-2Punts-avg.8-36.82-34.5Penalties-yards2-258-55Fumbles-lost2-01-0Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times