Woodlan loses 15-14 in Class 2A state football championship game

Woodlan captains, from left, Amarion Hicks, Justin Durkes, Donald Guerrant and Jack Rhoades accept the Class 2A runner-up trophy following Saturday's loss to Southridge in Indianapolis. (By Margo Kelly for The News-Sentinel)

INDIANAPOLIS — It came down to a two-point conversion between Woodlan and Southridge on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

With just over 80 seconds left in regulation, the Raiders chose to roll with their “two-point special” play.

It worked.

A Jayce Harter pass to Tucker Schank on the conversion lifted Southridge to a 15-14 win over Woodlan in the Class 2A state championship.

“We got one play,” Southridge coach Scott Buening said. “If it’s one play to go to overtime or one play to try and win it, we were willing to roll the dice there.”

Buening said following the game that he was all-in on going for the win.

“We couldn’t get anything going against that defense,” said Buening about the Warriors. “That defense was lights out. Tough, strong, physical, they were everything we thought they were coming into this game.”

The Warriors were just one more stop away from preserving its first-ever state championship in any sport. Southridge faced a 4th-and-5 at the Woodlan 42 yard line with 1:48 remaining. Following a Raiders timeout, Harter hit Schank on a screen that went for a touchdown.

“That was just tough,” Woodlan coach Sherwood Haydock said. “Our defense played well all year until that moment.

“(Southridge) deserved to win because they stayed up and stayed with it.”

Woodlan (12-3) had one more chance, but four straight Justin Durkes incompletions turned the ball back over to Southridge and effectively ended the game.

The Warriors seemingly had the game in hand late, but on 4th and 4 from the Southridge 33, Durkes was intercepted, giving the Raiders life with 2:40 left.

It was a familiar theme for Woodlan, which repeatedly came up empty on drives into Southridge territory. The Warriors finished 1-of-6 in the red zone and 5-of-11 on fourth down.

The Warriors wasted no time to start the game. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Warriors went 77 yards on four plays to open the scoring. A 27-yard run by Jack Rhoades capped the drive, his 26th rushing touchdown of the year.

Southridge answered late in the first quarter, with Colin Smith running eight yards for a touchdown that tied the game. Smith appeared to fumble the ball into the end zone, but officials determined that he had crossed the goal line prior to losing possession.

Both teams fudged multiple opportunities in the first half. Woodlan drove into Southridge territory in all five of its possessions through the first two quarters, but came away with only seven points.

Meanwhile, Southridge had two drives end with fumbles, including a turnover inside the Woodlan 10 yard line. On that play, Jack Stuckey hit Southridge quarterback Jayce Harter, who lost the ball. It was recovered by Warriors junior Isaac Meyer.

Woodlan took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Facing a 4th-and-6 at the 13, Justin Durkes hit Ah’Lan Howard for the touchdown. Prior to that score, the Warriors were 0-for-4 for the game in the red zone.

Durkes finished 14-of-30 for 206 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Aaron Hahn was the primary beneficiary of Durkes’ passes, grabbing five receptions for 139 yards.

Jack Rhoades rushed 21 times for 71 yards and a score.

Harter threw for 202 yards and a touchdown in the victory for Southridge. Schank had five receptions for 121 yards, a touchdown and the game-winning interception.