The Wildcats made their cause harder by throwing three interceptions and experienced several breakdowns in their kicking game, resulting in the Gladiators getting the ball in Woodland territory. Their defense continued to show improvement.
Skye Overton, the Gladiators star quarterback, scored all four of the visitors’ touchdowns with runs of 2, 38, 1 and 18 yards.
In the loss, Woodland, which fell behind 21-0, clawed its way back to 21-13 in the third quarter before the Gladiators put them away with a crushing fourth-quarter scoring drive.
Head coach Vince DiLorenzo said he thought the Wildcats (2-2 in Region 7-AAAA) were prepared for Johns Creek (4-0) and its prolific-scoring quarterback, but the results didn’t bear that out.
“From the films we saw, we knew he [Overton] had speed,” he said. “They didn’t do anything to surprise us, which was even more disappointing. It wasn’t anything we weren’t prepared for or expected. My plan just didn’t beat their plan.”
He said the Wildcats must cut down on their mistakes and focus on getting better.
“There’s a lot of games left to be played. It starts with next week, homecoming. Now’s the time for us to pull together, to continue to work hard, and we’ll find out what kind of coaches and players we have by the way we react to adversity.”
Adversity started early for the Wildcats, whose first drive started at their 20. A pass to Twan Terrell from Williams netted eight yards and set Woodland up with a second-and-2 when the snap went sailing past Williams and eventually was recovered at the Wildcat 16.
Two plays later Ben Haney punted to the 46 of Johns Creek but the Gladiator punt receiver found some daylight and advanced deep into the red zone before being stopped at the 11.
On Johns Creek’s first play, Woodland’s Shelby Townsend stuffed Overton to push the ball back to the 15. A play later Townsend combined with Johnny Wiley to sack Overton at the 23 and the Gladiators then missed a 40-yard field goal try as the Wildcats dodged the first bullet of the evening.
The Wildcats barely had time to give a sigh of relief, however, as they went three and out and Haney stood ready to punt but ended up chasing it down and falling on it at the two.
Johns Creek’s Overton scored from that distance, and the Gladiators were up 7-0 after the PAT was made.
The Gladiators’ next score, which came early in the second quarter, also got a jump start from a turnover. A Johns Creek punt pinned the Wildcats back at their 16, where they picked up a first down on three running plays with backup quarterback Mason Robinson directing. Two plays later Johns Creek’s Zach Disher stepped in front of a Robinson pass and carried it to the Woodland 38.
Overton ran in for the score on the first play and his Gladiators were up 14-0 after the kick was made.
Woodland tried to get untracked its next offensive series but two penalties, one a 10-yarder, frustrated the drive and, once again, the Wildcats were intercepted, with Will Somers catching an offering from Williams and giving the Gladiators possession at Woodland’s 45.
A seven-play drive by Johns Creek was capped by a 1-yard run by Overton and the visitors went up 21-0 with about two minutes remaining until half time.
Woodland’s final drive of the half started at its 27 but did not begin promisingly as Robinson was thrown for a 5-yard loss. Twan Terrell carried the mail the next play, gaining three of those yards back, leaving the Wildcats facing a third and 12. Williams found Terrell open for a 15-yard pass and moved the chains to the home team’s 40-yard line. Williams earned three yards on the ground then two plays later hit Qua Stocks for a 14-yard gain. Williams found Stocks open again at the 26 and then combined with Xavier Niblet for a touchdown that gave the Wildcats some momentum as they went into halftime down 21-7.
The Wildcats responded with an 11-play drive on their first possession of the third quarter that changed field position by forcing Johns Creek to start at their own 18. Three plays netted one yard and the Gladiators managed only a 15-yard punt.
Williams used one play in connecting with Terrell on a 34-yard scoring play that let the Wildcats close to 21-13 after the PAT was no good.
Johns Creek responded by taking the ensuing kickoff to Woodland’s 37. From there, it took the Gladiators five plays to score, the honors once again done by Overton from 18 yards out in the final period.
The Wildcats were unable to score in the final period.
DiLorenzo said Woodland still has a lot it can accomplish this season.
“We’re all disappointed,” he said. “We all had higher expectations, but we have to control the things we can control, which, number one, is our attitude. It is the way we work and the way we approach every day. If this football team will accept that and embrace that every day, then we have a chance to have a great season.”
He said Woodland has worked hard on its kicking game despite its showing Friday night and that effort will pay off.
“Everything that happened to us, we worked on. We ran full gear Monday and Tuesday. We hit. We went live in the kicking game in order to get some of those things corrected. It is hard for us, right now, to overcome the number of mistakes we are making. We have to be a team that protects the football, that executes in all phases of the game and not give our opponent a short field. Right now we are not good enough to overcome that.”
He said he is proud of the team for the way it kept playing despite being behind.
“We never quit. Our guys never gave up. I still continue to say that I’m proud of the football team that is playing in our stadium on Friday nights. I continue to be proud of the players and the way they’re representing Woodland and Woodland’s community. What I want to say to the Woodland community is ‘Don’t give up on us because we’re going to get this thing turned around.’”
The Wildcats entertain Forsyth Central on Friday night. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
SCORING BY QUARTERS
1 2 3 4 F
Woodland 0 7 6 0 13
Johns Creek 7 14 7 0 28
JOHNS CREEK — Skye Overton 2-yd run (Kyle Fowler kick) 6:23
JOHNS CREEK — Overton 38-yd run (Fowler kick) 7:26
JOHNS CREEK — Overton 1-yd run (Fowler kick) 2:15
WOODLAND — Xavier Niblet 26-yd pass from R.J. Williams (Ben Haney kick) 0:23
WOODLAND — Twan Terrell 34-yd pass from Williams (kick missed) 1:23
JOHNS CREEK — Overton 18-yd run (Fowler kick) 11:48
WOODLAND JOHNS CREEK
First downs 11 4
Rushes-yds 30/53 27/135
Passing yds 182 34
Comp-Att-Int 15/29/3 5/10/0
Total yds 262 169
Penalties 8/49 6/30
Fumbles-lost 2/0 1/0
Punts-yds 3/95 4/111
Rushing — Woodland: R.J. Williams 18/29; Cambrell Turner 5/4 Ben Haney 1/-27; Mason Robinson 3/0; Qua Stocks 1/8; Twan Terrell 2/12;
Johns Creek: Skye Overton 15/93; Chase Solomon 7/44; Ben Deck 1/0; Collin Clark 1/-3; Blake Storm 1/4; Jack Pomerantz 1/9; Kyle Fowler 1/-12
Passing — Woodland: Williams 14-26-182-2, Robinson 1/3/5/1; Johns Creek: Overton 5-10-34
Receiving — Woodland: Terrell 4/73; Deo Adams 3/33; Stocks 5/41; Xavier Niblet 2/35; Johns Creek: Chase Solomon 2/20; Bradon Fortin 1/13; Matt Azemar 1/-2; Andrew Szambelan 1/3