Woodland defeated Washougal 35-28 in a double overtime thrill ride Friday, at Fishback Stadium.
“It’s tough for the seniors,” said wide receiver Karsten Short. “This was our last home game, and we really wanted to come out on top. Things just didn’t go our way.”
The Panthers crashed and burned on this night, but they are determined to rise from the ashes as a family and play more football.
“Losing gives us more fuel,” said running back Sam O’Hara.
“In the end, it’s not over,” added running back Caleb Howard. “We’re still going to go as hard as we can to get the victories we need to go to the playoffs. There’s still two games left to play.”
After losing its first game, Washougal (6-1, 1-1) finishes the season on the road. The Panthers play Mark Morris Friday, at Longview Memorial Stadium, before going to Hockinson on Oct. 28. Washougal has to win both games to have a shot at the playoffs.
“We want to regroup, win these next two games, get to the playoffs and show what Panther football is all about,” Short said. “This is just a bump in the road. To get to where we want to be, we have to reunite as a family, step up and respond.”
Washougal looked good early on Friday, building a 28-14 advantage at halftime. O’Hara finished off the first drive of the game with an 18-yard touchdown run. Colton Sullivan then fired a 74-yard touchdown pass to Zach Boland. Howard shook off a couple of tacklers, and kept going for a 34-yard touchdown. Sullivan also completed a 10-yard dash into the end zone.
The Panthers lost their momentum in the second half. No matter how many yards they gained, a penalty or a fumble stopped them dead in their tracks. Washougal also had two touchdowns in the first half brought back because of penalties.
“We are not the refs. They make the calls, and I respect their calls,” Short said. “We just got to keep playing.”
Woodland scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in less than one minute to tie the game. A 43-yeard field goal try by O’Hara sailed wide as time expired, but he still found the tenacity to block a field goal attempt by the Beavers in the first overtime session.
Woodland took the lead in the second overtime, and then stopped Washougal about seven yards away from the end zone.
Long after the game was over, the fans hung around the stadium to give the Panthers a standing ovation. They remembered when Washougal did not have a winning record for six years, before this group went 5-4 last season and 6-0 to start this season.
“In all my time at Washougal, I have never seen such a packed house,” Short said. “It was amazing.”
“We’ve got the greatest fans around,” Howard added. “They drive us.”