Written by Kyle Valdez
The Catholic High Bears capped off their regular season with a victory over Woodlawn 34-27 at Memorial Stadium. Despite Catholic owning a 34-13 lead in the fourth quarter, Woodlawn fought their way back, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
After multiple schedule changes in the past three weeks, the two squads played in the final District 5-5A matchup of the season. Woodlawn entered the contest as the No. 2 team in Class 5A and Catholic was the No. 3 seed in Division 1.
Catholic’s freshman quarterback Daniel Beale made his first career start due to starter Landon O’Connor suffering an ankle injury the week before. Beale looked impressive as he threw for 223 yards and kept his poise all night. Bears running back George Hart totaled 100 yards on the ground and three touchdowns on just 14 carries. Corey Singleton rushed for 90 yards.
Woodlawn got off to a slow start, but they proved their offense can score in spurts. Sophomore quarterback Rickie Collins threw for 453 yards and four touchdowns on 31-47 passing. Receiver Kyle Jones caught 10 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. Clayton Adams reeled in seven balls for 118 yards, and Amani Givens added 147 rushing yards. Dynamic playmaker Lanard Harris caught a 42-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
From start to finish, Catholic controlled the game. The two key points that separated the teams were defensive stops for the Bears. With under one minute left in the half and Woodlawn down 21-7, Rickie Collins took three deep shots in the end zone, but couldn't convert.
"Our timing was off early in the game," Woodlawn head coach Marcus Randall said. "We had a chance to score right before the half and it could have been a different game if we go in down 21-14."
The second key moment for Catholic was a red zone stop with roughly four minutes remaining. Down 34-20, Woodlawn was stopped on fourth down in a crucial drive. With a 4th-and-long from the Catholic 16-yard line, Jermaine Vessel applied the pressure, forcing Collins to throw an incomplete pass. Woodlawn would go on to stop Catholic and score again, but the deciding factor was that one drive.
Woodlawn will look to rebound next week in Round 1 of the Class 5A playoffs. They finished at No. 15 and will face No. 18 East St. John on Friday. Catholic finishes as the No. 4 team in Division 1 and will prepare for the defending state champions Archbishop Rummel. The two squads last met at Yulman Stadium a year ago for the state championship with Rummel edging Catholic 14-10. This year, the Division 1 state championship rematch will take place on Dec. 4 at Memorial Stadium.
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