Austin Tofell saw an opportunity to help the Washougal High School football team win the game Friday at Woodland, and he didn’t take his eyes off of it.
Down by one point with less than three minutes to go, the Panthers attempted to take the lead on a field goal. Out of desperation following a mishandled snap, Tofell caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Colton Sullivan and Washougal beat Woodland 26-21.
“I saw the ball floating up in the air, caught it and ran it in,” Tofell said. “I did it for the team. Hopefully, it sparks something inside all of us and we make it to the playoffs.”
Coming off two tough losses, head coach Bob Jacobs was pleased to see the Panthers fighting hard in the fourth quarter. Had it not been for some costly Washougal turnovers in scoring position, the game may not have been that close. The bad snap on the field goal also put the Panthers in danger. Good thing the kicker is also a quarterback.
Sam O’Hara pitched the ball to Sullivan, and Sullivan fired a prayer toward the end zone. The ball was tipped up once, twice and landed in the palms of Tofell. The sophomore sprinted the final seven yards, and leaped across the goal line. It was an unbelievable turn of events for Washougal.
“We have those plays in mind for when disaster strikes,” Jacobs said. “Luckily, our kids kept their cool and went where they were supposed to go. Austin kept his eye on the ball and came away with the touchdown. It wasn’t pretty, but it got us into the end zone.”
“It was another one of those crazy finishes where we had to get it in the end zone, one way or another,” said O’Hara. “I was able to flick the ball to Colton just in the nick of time. I saw him pass it, and the ball was tipped. At that point, I thought the play was over.
“All of the sudden, Austin had the ball and people started freaking out,” O’Hara added. “It was a rush of emotions for everyone. We were all screaming and huddling up. It was great.”
It took the Panthers back to the first week of the season, when O’Hara caught a game-winning touchdown to help Washougal beat Hudson’s Bay 10-7.
“They were both great plays, but I got to give Austin props,” O’Hara said. “That ball was tipped up a couple of times, and he kept his eye on it the whole time.”
Tofell put O’Hara’s catch above his, because it made the Panthers believe they could beat anybody. Washougal has earned four victories on the road since then, but is still looking for its first win at home.
The Panthers have two more chances, this Friday against Mark Morris or Friday, Oct. 29 against Hockinson. Both games at Fishback Stadium begin at 7 p.m.
A win or two could lead the Panthers to the playoffs.
“However it ends up for us, I want to be able to say that we played four quarters,” Jacobs said. “All I can ask is that we play 48 minutes of the best football we can.”