“Both sides, the people I’ve talked to, have said it was either one of the best or the best high school game they’d ever seen. … From the first snap to the last snap, it was intense,” Bulldogs coach Chad Young said Wednesday. “You hear people say, ‘You bought the whole seat but all you needed was the edge.’ It was one of those games.”
Woodland won the overtime coin toss and elected to play defense first. After three running plays produced five yards in gains for Ranburne, quarterback Dylan Wiggins passed to Dylan Tullis for the go-ahead touchdown but Ranburne’s extra point try was blocked.
Woodland answered on fourth down with a 1-yard run. A high snap on the extra point kept the game tied.
The Bobcats remained on offense for the second overtime. Two runs netted a yard and on third down Ranburne’s Brady Whittle beat his blocker on a stunt and tackled the ball carrier for a 7-yard loss. Kyle Lovvorn intercepted a fourth-down pass.
The Bulldogs played conservatively on their first two plays, running in the middle of the field for five yards. Woodland called a timeout prior to the third down. At the snap, Wiggins rolled to his left, ducked to avoid a would-be tackler, spun and then threw a laser to Lovvorn for the winning touchdown.
“He just did it. An athlete made a play and when you do that you’re going to win some games,” Young said.
“We don’t practice that play,” he added with a chuckle.
The win takes Ranburne to 6-0 on the season, the best start for the Bulldogs since the 2001 team started 6-0. In 2000, Ranburne opened 7-0 and the current team has an excellent chance of matching that start Friday when the Bulldogs travel to Pell City to take on Victory Christian (1-5). The Lions began their season with a win over Alabama School for the Deaf but have not won since Week 1. Their losses include a forfeit to Pleasant Valley in Week 4.
“Our approach has been to not worry about the opponent and work on us trying to get better,” Young said of this week’s practice. “Really, all it boils down to is trying to make yourself better. That’s what practice is really all about.”
Against Woodland, the opening kickoff went to Ranburne and the Bulldogs marched 65 yards in seven plays, twice keeping the drive alive with third-down conversions. Wiggins passed to Adam Sheppard for 11 yards on third-and-8 and connected with Lovvorn for 33 yards on another third-and-8 call. Tullis completed the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run with 9:35 remaining in the first quarter. Jake Howle, who was 3-for-3 on extra points, made it 7-0.
After the initial touchdown, the Bulldogs spent much of the first half pinned deep in Ranburne territory. Their next four possessions began at the Ranburne 12-yard line, the Ranburne 20, the Ranburne 7 and the Ranburne 10. Each possession ended in a punt. The defense held Woodland out of the Ranburne end zone for four downs from inside the Bulldogs’ 10-yard line along the way. On Ranburne’s sixth possession of the half, Wiggins and Lovvorn combined again with 1:22 left before halftime for a one-play, 66-yard scoring pass and a 14-0 lead.
With 17 seconds left in the second quarter, the Bobcats got a rushing touchdown from quarterback John Wes Adcock, cutting Ranburne’s lead to 14-7 at halftime.
“We were trying to take away the deep ball from John Wes the whole game and then he started hurting us with his feet,” said Young.
The Bobcats continued their rally in the third quarter, taking the second-half kickoff and scoring to create a 14-all tie. Ranburne picked up a first down on a Wiggins-to-Lovvorn pass good for 25 yards then the Bobcats blitzed and forced a fumble with just over eight minutes left in the third quarter. Another Woodland touchdown followed.
Trailing 21-14, the Bulldogs lost the ball on an interception midway through the third then lost it again on downs at the Woodland 12-yard line with 27 seconds to go in the quarter. Ranburne created the break it needed with a fumble on a screen pass 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. Out of the pile, the Bulldogs got the ball at the Woodland 39.
On the first play, Wiggins saw Brayden Wilson break free on a clear-out route, lofted the ball over the coverage and Wilson turned the throw into a 39-yard touchdown with 10:21 left in regulation.
Two interceptions, the first by Lovvorn and the second by Tullis, ended Woodland’s next two possessions. Following Tullis’ pick, Ranburne moved into the red zone on a series of completed passes but three passes into the end zone were incomplete and the game went to overtime.
Ranburne ran the ball 35 times and netted 103 yards on the ground. Tullis had 16 carries for 70 yards. Whittle had 18 yards on five tries. G.W. Caldwell ran twice for eight yards. Wiggins netted seven yards on 12 carries after he was sacked six times.
Wiggins was 15-for-22 passing for 261 yards and four touchdowns. He gave up one interception. Lovvorn caught eight passes for 171 yards. Wilson had three receptions for 49 yards. Tullis made three catches for 30 yards. Sheppard had one catch for 11 yards.
Dalton Wiggins was the leader on defense with a total of 13 tackles. Caldwell, Whittle and Tyler Connell each made eight tackles. Whittle’s included a quarterback sack. Donovan Tullis had a sack and six additional tackles. Lovvorn, Cole Yearta and Zach Patterson each recorded six tackles. One of Patterson’s was a sack. Dylan Wiggins had five tackles. Wilson and Dalton White made four stops apiece. Devin Rehberg had three tackles.