When the ball finally hit the ground, H.D. Woodson alumni took off their letterman’s jackets and pointed to the back. Coaches slipped championship rings out of their pockets. They need some extra space to fit in another title year.
In a 22-20 slugfest, H.D. Woodson beat Wilson on Thursday to win its fourth straight Turkey Bowl, the DCIAA football championship, at Eastern Senior High in Northeast.
“We just made history,” senior defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman said.
He walked around afterward exchanging hugs with teammates, coaches, family and neighbors, holding four fingers high. A coach kept Twyman’s championship ring from the previous three years in his pocket in case Twyman needed it to celebrate afterward.
This was not the Turkey Bowl either team had anticipated. Backup quarterbacks ran both offenses. The teams combined for 265 penalty yards. Every time the Warriors (11-1) seemed to have pulled away, the depleted Tigers (9-3) responded.
Savoy, in the wildcat offense, floated a touchdown pass to Coleman on fourth and goal from the 10-yard line with just over five minutes to play. The Tigers were within two, then nearly recovered a pooch kickoff.
“For a minute, my heart dropped,” Woodson quarterback Tyron Robinsonsaid.
The Warriors burned 2½ minutes off the clock before punting back to Wilson. Coach Mark Martin gave Savoy the reins of the offense in relief of freshman Malakai Anthony, who started for injured all-DCIAA quarterbackSteven Williams Jr.
Anthony was effective early. On Wilson’s third play, he hit Coleman for a 61-yard touchdown strike on a ball placed brilliantly to the sideline.
Then the Warriors brought pressure and rattled Anthony with exotic blitz packages and a hefty pass rush.
“We bend but don’t break,” Twyman said.
A tipped-ball interception by Woodson’s Charles Peeler to end the third quarter was followed by a touchdown pass from Robinson to wideout Noah Boykin, putting the Warriors squarely in control with a 22-13 lead.
“He had some moments, but he managed the game,” Woodson Coach Greg Fuller said of Robinson, who was named the game’s MVP.
“We trusted him,” Twyman said. “Everybody else didn’t know about him, but we did.”
The Tigers responded with Savoy’s 10-yard touchdown connection with Coleman, then sacked Robinson to force a punt. They took over with 2 1/2 minutes to play at their own 8.
Against this Warriors defense, a touchdown drive may have been too much to ask.
“We’ve leaned on our defense all year,” Fuller said. “We knew they’d carry us.”
In the final moments, the defense did. After Savoy scrambled for a first down, the Tigers moved backward, and then Peeler broke up two long balls intended for Coleman. As the final pass hit the ground, the stands on the Woodson sideline rattled with glee.
Parents and neighbors took the field for pictures afterward, shook hands and told each other, “We’ll be back next year.”