After a hot 4-0 start, the Woodland Wildcats (4-3 overall, 2-3 in region) experienced their third consecutive loss Friday night — a bruising 47-20 defeat at home at the hands of the Carrollton Trojans (6-1 overall, 4-1 in region.)
"The last two weeks we've lined up against two of the best teams in the state of Georgia, and we didn't back down," said Woodland's head coach Tony Plott.
"Right now, we're just going to have to recover and heal. Going back-to-back against Rome and Carrollton, you get beat up. Those are two very physical teams."
The Trojans cashed in on a 41-yard touchdown pass on just their second play from scrimmage to begin the first quarter. Woodland would go three-and-out on their first possession, as Carrollton racked up a 10-yard rushing TD to make it 14-0 about halfway through the first.
Carrollton struck again just seconds into the second quarter, registering a 14-yard rushing touchdown to extend their lead to 21-0. After Reed Findley recorded a sack against the Trojans, Seth Johnson blocked a Carrollton field goal attempt. On the very next play, Woodland's sophomore quarterback Jakob Foss would connect with senior running back Justice Carter on a 41-yard scorcher to make it a 21-8 game following Titus Jones' ensuing successful two-point conversion.
Roughly two minutes later, however, Carrollton's potent rushing offense notched up another touchdown around the four-minute mark of the second to extend its lead to 28-8. Woodland, however, would reduce the deficit with another score with just 14 seconds remaining in the first half — a 15-yard touchdown pass from Foss to Jones. A blocked PAT, however, kept it a 28-14 contest heading into halftime.
"Titus Jones played out of his mind," Plott said. "He had a great game on defense, offensively there for a while he was our offense. I'm very proud of him and the effort he put out."
Woodland went three and out to begin the third quarter. Carrollton would spend roughly half the quarter driving, ultimately recording a 2-yard rushing touchdown to increase their lead to 34-14.
The Wildcats would go three and out yet again on their next possession, and Carrollton would respond with a 46-yard rushing touchdown with 2:28 to go in the quarter. Foss connected with Jones again on a 42-yard TD pass, but the 2-point try was not converted.
Woodland entered the fourth quarter down 41-20 against their Class 5A, Region 7 rivals. Carrollton scored one more touchdown — this, a rushing TD from nine yards out — to make it 47-20. Woodland would eventually make it down to the Carrollton 46 on a nine-play final drive, but regulation expired before they could find end zone.
"We had some stupid mistakes, that went wrong for us," Plott said. "And defensively, we couldn't stop them. We slowed them down at times, but they're so good on offense — I don't know that anybody can stop them. Rome had a hard time stopping them — they are very good on offense."
Despite the losing outcome, Plott said he's happy to see the Wildcats' passing attack gain some momentum.
Foss wrapped up the contest with three passing touchdowns. Unofficially, he finished the game 7-for-15 on passing attempts and recorded approximately 150 yards through the air.
"We've always wanted to be able to throw the ball more," Plott said. "I think our quarterback is growing up a little bit. He seems to get better each week and he's just a sophomore ... as he grows, our offense will grow also."
Senior running back Justice Carter finished the game with an estimated 105 rushing yards on 21 carries, plus one 41-yard touchdown reception.
Jones led the Wildcats in receiving, finishing the game with two touchdowns and an estimated 109 yards.
Woodland will take next Friday off and return to the gridiron Oct. 19 for a road game against Villa Rica (3-3 overall, 2-2 in region) at 7:30 p.m.
"The coaching staff's going to go ahead and start getting ready for Villa Rica," Plott said. "We'll come up with a plan — these next few days are going to be about our kids healing and getting better."