Westwood quarterback Mason Worsham, left, passed for 110 yards Friday, but it was his legs that carried the Wildcats past Thomas Jefferson as he ran in the game-tying score, then his younger brother, Chason Worsham, caught a pass from his older brother on the 2-point conversion to send the game into OT, where Westwood won. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CAMILLA -- It all came down to one play.
Down by eight point with just under two minutes to go in regulation, the Westwood Wildcats needed to convert a fourth-and-17 to keep their championship hopes alive.
As if that wasn't enough, a perfect season and two-year, 24-game win streak were also at stake.
Star quarterback Mason Worsham dropped back, after just being sacked for big yardage, waiting for his receiver to get open. After what seemed like an eternity, Mitch Good conveniently positioned himself at the opponent's two-yard line and caught a strike from Worsham. The play resulted in a first-and-goal for the Wildcats, who scored -- got a two-point conversion to tie it -- and eventually escaped in overtime against Thomas Jefferson, 35-28, on Friday in Camilla.
"We just had to have a big-time play in a big-time game," said Worsham, who went 11-of-19 passing with 110 yards and three touchdowns -- two of them rushing. "It is those kind of plays that determine these type of games. I guess that was the game right there on that play."
Failure to convert would have all but ended things for the Wildcats (12-0). Instead the 18-yard completion gave them life in the form of four downs. But the comeback was far from complete even after the clutch conversion.
The Wildcats still had to score and go for two just to tie.
Two plays after the big fourth-down play, Worsham ran the ball in for a touchdown, taking the score to 28-26.
Next came the two-point play that started terrible and ended in beauty. After Worsham's first target failed to get open, Chason Worsham -- his younger brother -- stood on the backside waiting for his chance at glory. He caught the ball and scurried to the end zone where he was met by a host of defenders. Realizing he would not make it in running, Chason somersaulted over the goal line as the crowd erupted in cheers.
"I did it once in seventh grade and I guess it was just instinct," Chason said with a smile. "You have to do what you have to do -- and leave it all on the field."
With the score knotted at 28-28, the Jaguars got the ball back with about 30 seconds to play. Not wanting to risk any mishaps in their own territory, they played it conservatively and prepared for overtime.
Thomas Jefferson (10-3) won the coin toss and sent the Wildcats on the field first. Three plays later after a 14-yard touchdown run from Mason Worsham, the Jaguars were down by seven with only one series left to try to tie the game.
"Usually you want them to have the ball first in overtime," Westwood head coach Ross Worsham said. "To knock it in that quick was big."
With the momentum on their side, the Wildcats turned to their defense to close it out. Thomas Jefferson quarterback Chase Walden sailed the ball in the air to his best receiver Will Johnson on fourth down, only to have the pass knocked down, ending the Jaguars' season in heartbreak.
"There are no words to describe what we are feeling," Thomas Jefferson head coach Chuck Wimberly said. "No team deserves to lose a game like that. My kids played their tail off and they gave me everything they could possibly give a coach."
Westwood's JT Edore, who scored the Wildcats' first two touchdowns, finished with 76 rushing yards on 12 carries. Westwood's third score came when Brody Collins caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, giving the Wildcats a 20-6 lead.
The Wildcats then took the 14-point cushion and fell asleep by allowing Thomas Jefferson to run off 22 unanswered points. The Jaguars stole the momentum right before halftime when Michael Bridges caught a ball on a trick play behind the line of scrimmage and ran it in from 36 yards out with seven seconds to go in the half.
An opening second-half scoring drive that nearly took up half the quarter further propelled the Jaguars into the driver's seat. The game did not turn around for the Wildcats until the last few minutes of regulation.
Regardless of how unpretty it may have been, the Wildcats won for the 25th consecutive time and now look to repeat as state champions next week at home against Memorial Day -- the very same team it beat last year on the road in Savannah to win the Class A State Championship.