When it counted most, the Lutcher Bulldogs ran right at the heart of the Patterson Lumberjack defense.
The game was tied 28-28 when Lutcher got the ball back at its own 40-yard line with 3:41 left in the game.
Running right up the middle, Lutcher quarterback D’Wayne Winfield ran for 9 yards. Running back Ra’saun Storks followed with a 10-yard carry. It was Winfield up the middle once again, this time for 13 yards.
On the next play, Storks broke loose up the middle for a 28-yard touchdown and a 35-28 lead with 2:17 left in the game on Lutcher’s way to a 37-35 home win over Patterson in District 9-3A action Thursday night.
“When the game came on the line, you will dance with the girl that brung you. Our offensive line has been there for us all year long (plus) Ra’saun Storks and D’Wayne Winfield,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said.
Storks and Winfield were instrumental in the Bulldogs’ win in other ways.
Storks opened the second half with a 97-yard kickoff return to give Lutcher a 21-14 lead.
With the score tied 28-28 and the Lumberjacks facing third-and-goal at the Lutcher 9-yard line, Winfield, in the game as a defensive back, hauled in a ball in the end zone that had been tipped by teammate Robert Ursin, preventing a potential go-ahead score by Patterson.
“They trusted me at safety. They needed somebody to help. I just knew I was going to catch it. I was like, ‘yeah, this is me. I’ve got to get it,” Winfield said.
“Obviously, the interception was huge to keep them of the board right there and we were able to go down the field and score,” said Jenkins.
The Bulldogs were able to go down and score, it was behind the team’s season-long strength – the offensive line.
“Coach believed in us and that’s all that matters,” Bulldogs tackle Donald Fleming said.
“We stuck to what we’ve done all season. We ran it behind No. 2 and that’s what we do,” said center Brandon Boudwin, referring to Storks.
“We just had to stick to the stuff we had been doing since the season started – running power behind the best person on our team,” tackle Semaij Scott said.
Storks’ touchdown put the Bulldogs on top 35-28.
On Patterson’s next possession, sophomore quarterback Caylon Davis had to run down a snap from center over his head for a 17-yard loss back to the Lumberjacks’ 3-yard line. Davis was injured on the next play. Freshman Drew Dinger entered the game and threw an incomplete pass.
Forced to try and convert a fourth-and-27 from the 3-yard line with 1:26 left in the game, Dinger was sacked in the end zone for a safety. That gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game at nine points, 37-28.
Yet, there was no quick in the young Lumberjacks of first-year coach Zach Lochard.
Patterson was successful on an on-side kick, getting the ball back at its own 38 with 1:26 left in the game.
Tylon Walton, the Lumberjacks’ best all-around athlete went in at quarterback. He ran four times and completed a pair of passes, scoring on a 4-yard run to narrow the gap to 37-35 with 29 seconds left in the game.
“We talk to them about finishing and never letting go of the rope and I couldn’t be more proud of his team, this group of seniors, this coaching staff, and the whole entire organization,” said Lochard.
The next on-side kick went right to Winfield. This time, there would be no mishandling of the football.
“I ran to the sideline (after the first on-side kick) and said, ‘Guys, we need to call the ball. Not just have people jump at the ball randomly. They put me right there to get it.”
The victory allowed Lutcher to go into the playoffs with a win and a record above .500 at 4-3. The Bulldogs finished 2-2 in District 9-3A play.
“This football team has been through a lot. We’ve played some close football games. We’ve given up points and drives and all those things, so it’s good to have (the win in the regular-season finale). You know when adversity hits, you learn a lot about your football team,” said Jenkins.
Patterson finished 2-6 overall and 1-4 in district play. The Lumberjacks will have to wait through the rest of the Week 8 games to see if they might qualify for the playoffs.
“We’re not counting this playoff run out yet,” said Lochard. “We will wait and see where the chips fall.”
“They were a hungry football team. They were a team that knew that if they won tonight, they make the playoffs. Now, they need some help. They need to see what happens with people getting eliminated or people that can’t play, and need help to get in. I thought they played that way,” Jenkins said of the Lumberjacks.
Lutcher appeared to force a three-and-out to open the game. However, a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave Patterson a first down and the Bulldogs would not touch the ball for the first time for another eight minutes and Lutcher trailing 7-0.
The roughing-the-kicker call proved to be the first of four third- or fourth-down conversions on Patterson’s opening drive.
A 2-yard run by Walton with 3:51 left in the first quarter capped an 18-play drive to give the Lumberjacks a 7-0 lead.
Lutcher answered on its first drive with a 22-yard run by Storks on an option pitch, tying the score seven seconds into the second quarter.
LHS came up with a break when a fumbled quarterback-running back exchange by Patterson was recovered by Lutcher’s Copeland Williams at the Bulldogs’ 46.
Lutcher cashed in when Winfield scored on an 11-yad run 10 plays later for a 14-7 lead with 1:34 left in the second quarter.
Any thoughts the Bulldogs had of a lead at halftime quickly disappeared.
Two plays into Patterson’s ensuing drive, Dillon Gunner hauled in a pass over the middle before being knocked of bounds at the 1-yard line to complete a 49-yard catch-and-run.
Darion Robertson scored on the next play with 27 seconds left in the second quarter, leading to a 14-14 tie at halftime.