Crimson Tide players were visibly nervous as they watched their defense try to keep the Woodlawn Knights out of the end zone from the 10-yard line with time dwindling away.
When Treveion Youngblood’s fourth down pass fell incomplete and the Tide took over on downs, Minden players celebrated their 20-14 win the only way you can in a quagmire,
sliding through the mud.
Inside a rain-soaked Pit, the Tide (8-2, 6-1) earned their eighth win of the season, a mark that hasn’t been reached since 2006.
For head coach Spencer Heard, it was the perfect way to wrap up a regular season full of nail-biters.
“I think being in those big games early in the year, like Haughton, North Webster and Benton, it helped us,” Heard said. “We don’t get tensed up in those crazy situations like that at the end. We’ve been in so many ball games like this. It’s second nature to our guys so it’s good for them. It’s not good for coaches, because you age about 50 years over the season.”
The rain fell hard and heavy during warmups, leaving massive mud puddles on the playing surface of W.W. Williams stadium. The conditions were a factor all night, as Minden and Woodlawn each fumbled twice, including fumbles on consecutive plays in the second quarter.
Woodlawn put the game’s first points on the board when Youngblood scored on a 3-yard quarterback keeper. The drive was keyed by a couple of long runs by sophomore running back Trivensky Mosley.
Minden struck back in the second quarter following a Woodlawn turnover, when Antonio Rivette hit L’Jarius Sneed with a pass in the flats. Sneed got to the sideline, cut back inside to make a man miss and raced 74 yards to the end zone, putting a would-be Woodlawn tackler on his back for good measure near the end of the run.
Trailing 8-6, Minden got the ball back courtesy of the Crimson Swarm defense. Following a couple of Rivette runs that moved the Tide into the red zone, Sneed took a handoff going left, hurdled a defender near the 10-yard line and walked in for an 18-yard touchdown run, putting the Tide on top, 12-8, at the half.
The two teams traded jabs the entire third quarter with neither able to land any blows.
Youngblood sparked the Knights with some good throws and runs, moving his team down to the Minden three yard line. Youngblood would finish the drive with his second rushing score to put Woodlawn back ahead, 14-12.
Minden only trailed 76 seconds of game time though, as Rivette found Tavarius Edwards on a deep pattern for an 80-yard touchdown pass. Rivette and Edwards got together again for the two-point conversion to make the score 20-14.
On Woodlawn’s final drive of the game, Youngblood moved his team to the 10-yard line with a 23-yard pass and an 11-yard run.
A pair of Youngblood runs went for no gain on first and second down, and his third down pass fell imcomplete with 10 seconds left, setting up fourth down. On the game’s most pivotal play, Youngblood threw to the left corner of the end zone, but the play was broken up by a pair of Crimson Tiders.
A wet and wild victory celebration ensued and the Tide will now enter the Class 4A playoffs with a full head of steam.
“Our guys came up big in some crucial moments,” Heard said. “Kelcey (Miller) made a huge first down catch, and for Tony (Rivette) to make that throw under pressure to Tavarius wasn’t easy. This season is a testament to these kids and the hard work they, and also our coaching staff, have put in. I’m really proud of the player and coaches for the progress this program has made.”
Rivette finished with 194 yards and two touchdowns to go with 38 rushing yards. Sneed led all receivers with 85 yards on two catches, Edwards had the one catch for an 80-yard score and Miller finished with 20 yards and two catches.
Class 4A playoffs
The Crimson Tide will play at home Friday in the first round of the playoffs against the Tioga Indians. The Tide are the No. 7 seed, while Tioga (4-6) comes in seeded No. 26.
Special thanks to Mark Chreene at KASO/KBEF radio for game notes and statistics