NORPHLET – It may have been Woodlawn’s best pass defense in the past couple of years, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome a key injury along the Bears’ offensive line as the Norphlet Leopards scored a 28-0 win over Woodlawn in the 8-2A opener for both teams Friday night at Norphlet.
“This was probably the best pass defense I’ve seen Woodlawn play, based on all the tape I’ve seen,” Woodlawn coach Ray Sessions said after the game.
Going in, Sessions was concerned about how his Bears were going to contain quarterback Michael Tipton and receiver Vincent Hegler, both all-conference selections last year after leading the Leopards to a suprising tie for third-place in the rugged 8-2A conference.
But the Woodlawn defense held it’s own Friday night, as Tipton completed 8-of-15 passes for just 54 yards. Hegler had just two catches for six yards.
It really wasn’t the defense that was the problem for Woodlawn, though. It was the offense.
Sessions said the loss of junior lineman Hunter Smith to an ankle injury last week left him having to patch up the offensive line and that limited what the Bears could do on offense Friday night.
The Leopards grabbed the early momentum by recovering an onside kick to start the game at the Woodlawn 48. Five plays later on fourth-and-nine, Tipton was breaking an onslaught of tackles to go 26 yards for the score. His two-point pass attempt to Hegler was out-of-bounds, leaving the Leopards with a 6-0 lead with 9:53 left in the first quarter.
After stopping the Bears on fourth down at the Norphlet 45, the Leopards would cover the distance in 11 plays before Hegler scored on an 11-yard run with 2:43 left in the first quarter. Tipton hit Jaylon Robinson on the two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
Norphlet did manage to squeeze in a touchdown before halftime when the Bears fumbled it away at their own 25. Five plays later, Tipton scored from one-yard out to make it 21-0.
The Leopards’ final score came in the fourth when Hegler scored on a 25-yard run with 8:44 left.
Woodlawn finished with 140 yards of offense. Keith Durham led the Bears in rushing with 54 yards on 16 carries while Trevor McDaniel had 44 on 11 rushes.