It was time to win.
Despite eight potential starters out with injuries, the Bobcats kept their hopes for a region championship alive Friday night with a 55-42 victory over No. 6 Wellborn.
The Bobcats won the shootout with a heaping helping of Mikey Howard. The 5-foot-10, 184-pound senior scored six touchdowns with all but one coming on the ground, rushing for 287 yards on 33 carries.
Howard scored on runs of 10, 12, six, four and five yards. He also added a 27-yard touchdown reception. And that total came with two starting offensive linemen out due to injury, Strain said.
“We had some people that came through in the pinch for us,” Howard said of his offensive line. “They blocked good, and I’m glad they stepped up. The more they step up, the more they help us out.”
Both teams were coming off losses, Woodland’s being the more damaging. The Bobcats fell to Ranburne, 14-6, in a Class 2A, Region 6 tilt. Wellborn’s 21-14 loss to now third-ranked Fyffe was a non-region contest.
Strain said lack of focus attributed to last week’s loss, and he took the blame for not having his team prepared.
“After we had the big game with Randolph County and then that game against Ranburne, (earlier in the season) I was afraid they’ve forget about this big game with Wellborn,” Strain said.
But after last week there was no way they’d forget.
With Woodland’s win over Wellborn, that gives each team one loss. Should they both win the remainder of their region slate, Woodland would own the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s first tiebreaker — head-to-head competition.
“We’ve just got to get back after it,” running back Kevin Mixon said. “… we can’t dwell on it.”
The game turned into a shootout that few expected, with Mixon and Howard, it’s two biggest stars, saying as much after the game. After the two teams swapped early touchdowns, Woodland rode its workhorse, Howard, to a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
But Wellborn never flinched.
The Panthers fought back quickly, taking advantage of a Howard fumble and using their one-two punch of Mixon and Chantz Goodman. Mixon scored on a 14-yard pass from Judd Smith, and then on the first play after Howard’s fumble, Goodman scored on an 83-yard run to tie the score with 2:56 left in the half.
With the shootout in full force, Woodland took a break from its workhorse to let its other stallions run.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, John Wes Adcock hit Colby Spears on a deep ball for a score. Then after a Wellborn turnover, he found Tyler Rollins for another touchdown, also on the drive’s first snap.
The two quick scores may have exposed a weakness in the Wellborn defense, but Strain said he was content in the second half with dancing with the one that brought him.
“I just couldn’t get away from Howard,” he said.
The two teams continued to swap touchdowns to start the second half, Woodland with drives of 11 and nine plays on two of its three second-half scores.
Wellborn scored its final touchdown via a Woodland turnover with 11.3 seconds remaining.
“All week the coaches been preaching ball control,” Howard said. “If we didn’t control the ball, this team was going to run over us.”