On a cold and blustery day at the old gray lady, Woodland and Leroy came out of the gates in a classic defensive struggle for the Alabama High School Athletic Association 2A state title.
Exchanging punts in the first quarter the two were like a couple of cagy veteran fighters who spent the first few rounds feeling out their opponent. It wasn't long though before the Woodland Bobcats got on the board thanks to a trick play executed perfectly by all-everything back Trae Strain.
Pounding out an 11-play drive that covered 64 yards and took five minutes and 27 seconds off the clock, the Bobcats scored on a great third and eight call from Strain at the Leroy nine yard line. Lining up at both quarterback and tailback, Strain lined up at tailback and took the pitch right. Selling the fake, Strain pulled up and hit receiver Brandon Nunn for a touchdown to give the Bobcats the early lead. With the extra point Woodland led 7-0 with 9:28 remaining in the first half.
Woodland's Brandon Nunn hauls in the touchdown pass.
It appeared Woodland would put this game away early as Nunn came up with a big play on defense when he recovered a Bracy fumble at the Leroy 41-yard line following a seven-yard gain on the play. That got the Bobcats going again as they immediately went to the air with Colton McCain hitting Justin Heard for a 24-yard gain on first down.
Three plays later an eight-yard gain by Strain on third down gave Woodland a first and goal at the Leroy five-yard line.
That would be the end of the good times for the Bobcats as Strain fumbled an attempted handoff that was scooped up by big defensive end Joe Fields for Leroy. Rumbling until grabbed from behind by Strain, Fields pitched the ball to Chris Weaver who finished the 93-yard fumble return with the touchdown. The Bears missed the extra-point, but the play gave Leroy the momentum it was looking for.
The Bears got their break late in the first half on an interception by linebacker Craig Weaver. Starting the drive inside the 30-yard line, Leroy got one first down before facing a third and long just outside the 10-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback Clint Moseley hit junior receiver Johnny Williams for what appeared to be a touchdown but he was ruled on the line and the pass was incomplete. An incomplete pass on fourth down left the score 7-6 Woodland at the break.
Bracy and the Leroy running game took control in the third quarter as the Bears chewed up yardage with Bracy doing much of the damage. Starting at their own 25-yard line with 10:22 left in the third quarter the Bears gave the ball to Bracy on first down and he promptly took it 29 yards for a first down. Five more times on the 11-play drive Bracy would get the ball culminating on a six-yard score with 5:46 left to put Leroy up 12-7. The two-point conversion failed, but Leroy finally had the lead. Through three quarters Bracy had 16 carries for 97 yards.
The fourth quarter was a battle of wills as Leroy kept the ball on the ground and played field position. Meanwhile Woodland kept the Bears' plan working smoothly by turning the ball over time and time again.
With just over five minutes left in the game McCain was intercepted deep in Leroy territory to kill a Bobcat drive. After a three and out by Leroy, Woodland got the ball back one more time deep in its own territory.
Following a first down strike by McCain that pushed the ball out across the 30-yard line, McCain was intercepted by Fields with 2:24 remaining to seal the victory and state championship for Leroy with a 12-7 win. It is Leroy's second state title in the last three seasons and both have come at the expense of Woodland.