The North Webster Knights were in this position last year, trailing in a quarterfinal playoff game with their season nearing an end.
This time, a more experienced Knights team fought back, digging deep and pulling off a thrilling 51-47 comeback victory over the Patterson Lumberjacks.
Early in the fourth quarter, North Webster was trailing 47-24, when the Knights began to turn the tide.
The Knights recovered four onside kicks in the final quarter of play while junior Devin White stole the spotlight by rushing for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns, while adding 53 yards and another touchdown receiving.
It was both an individual and team performance sure to live on in North Webster football history.
“It was just our kids not giving up, not quitting,” North Webster head coach John Ware said. “We made some huge special teams plays. I don’t talk about individual stuff too much but Devin put us on his shoulders. In these big games you expect your best players to do that in those types of situations. Over 400 yards of total offense, that’s a pretty special night.”
North Webster got on the board first when White scored his first touchdown from the one-yard line, But Patterson struck back with a trio of touchdowns from their talented receivers.
In the second quarter, the Knights got their second touchdown on a fake punt when Kolby Cooper took the snap from the H-back spot and found a wide-open JeKyren Miles for 55 yards and the score.
In the second half the Patterson offense heated up with North Webster struggling to match the quick strike Lumberjacks.
As hope began to fade away the Knights, led by White, hit their stride by rattling off 27 unanswered points for the win.
On the winning touchdown, an exhausted Devin White was used as the decoy to set up Jalen Smith’s touchdown plunge.
“Devin was gassed,” Ware said. “We knew they were keying on Devin pretty hard. We saw something we thought would open up and it did. That’s kind of the way it’s been all year. You go to keying on one of our guys too much, then we’ve got another guy who can beat you.”
Ware had trouble finding the right words to describe what it is that makes this team special.
“I’ve known it for about six weeks now,” Ware said. “I don’t know exactly how to put it into words, but they’ve practiced well, focused well and there’s just a lot of leadership on this team. They said it all week that they were not going to lose. We have 14 seniors who didn’t want to play (lose) their last game.”
The Knights (10-3) will play in the semi-finals of the LHSAA Class 3A playoffs against a familiar opponent, Amite.
Last season, Amite knocked North Webster out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals. This year’s game comes with a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on the line.
“They are a good, good football team,” Ware said. “It’s a rematch of last year with a chance to go to the Superdome on the line. The stakes don’t get any bigger than that.”