Let’s just say Thurgood Marshall would rather pass on passing. But with just a few ticks left and Winton Woods stalking, the Cougars were forced to go deep to Vayante Copeland.
Good call. The elusive senior appeared to snare a desperation heave from Jamahl Manley as time ran out. Time Warner Cable replays concurred. The apparent TD with no time left was waved off and Woods humbly fled for Interstate-75 a 41-34 winner Thursday night at Welcome Stadium.
“I think I got two feet in,” Copeland said. “Me and the defensive player had the ball. When I watch TV, (possession) goes to the offensive player.”
The playoffs are six weeks away, but this was a great glimpse of what to expect. Woods (5-0), big, strong, mean and fast, could roll to a Division II state title.
Thurgood has ramped up its schedule. Another good call. Defending D-III state champ Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary will be at Welcome in two weeks. Thurgood (2-2) could enter the playoffs with another loss and be the team no one wants to play. Its wins over Northmont (3-1) and Alter (3-1) will go a long way toward that.
Copeland again delivered against a top-shelf opponent. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a score. He dashed 80 and 49 yards for other scores. He should have been credited with a fourth.
“Vayante Copeland is a pretty special guy,” marveled Woods coach Andre Parker. “He pretty much single-handily carried them.”
The Cougars seemed stuck a series away from being blown out throughout. Deangelo Worthy’s 1-yard score and a clutch two-point toss from Manley to Lashawn Howard tied it at 34.
Winton Woods returned the following kickoff for the winning score. It was a fitting ending for this instant classic. There could be more. The teams agreed to extend their contract for two more years.
“If we’re going to get to the next level, your margin of error is very slim against these kinds of opponents,” grimaced Cougars coach Earl White.
Lumped in D-III with Trotwood-Madison, Tippecanoe and Springfield Shawnee, this was a precursor of what awaits Thurgood.
“This is going to get us ready (for the playoffs),” shrugged Copeland.
- Centerville (4-0) is at Naples, Fla., (3-0) today. The Elks traveled to Fort Myers on Thursday and will return on Saturday. The Elks reportedly raised more than $100,000 for chartered flights for 93 players, 12 coaches, cheerleaders and other staffers. Damian Popp leads the area with 847 yards rushing on just 88 carries (9.6 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns.