Justin Woolfolk and Josh Thomas took turns tearing up Ranburne’s defense Friday night.
The tailback-quarterback combo rushed for 507 yards and six touchdowns in leading Montgomery Academy to a 54-44 victory in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs at Harlen Robinson Field.
“Got two home run hitters, and they were hitting that thing out the park tonight,” Eagles coach Anthony McCall said.
A junior, Thomas rushed for 219 yards and accounted for five total touchdowns with three being rushing scores. Woolfolk, a senior, punched out a game-high 288 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries as the Eagles (11-1) will play Tanner (10-1) in the quarterfinals next week at home.
“It’s hard to tell on film how good they are,” Ranburne coach Chad Young said. “We’ve been stopping people like that all year. They made plays.”
In sparking the Eagles to a 34-7 halftime lead, Thomas scored on a 19-run, a 70-yard punt return and threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Sam LaPlatney.
Then he answered two Ranburne comeback attempts with touchdown runs of 61 and 79 yards.
“That’s my dude, man,” Woolfolk said. “I love the huge plays that he makes. He contributes to the team so much.”
The latter one put the Eagles up 54-37 with 2 minutes, 44 seconds left in the game. Running wide to the right on a quarterback keeper, Thomas cut on a dime near the sidelines after picking up the first down, turned up field and jolted through the Ranburne defense for a touchdown.
“When it broke open, I was trying to stay inbounds and keep the clock running, but I saw a crease and hit it and fortunately I scored,” Thomas said.
The final Thomas touchdown run came after Montgomery Academy made a goal-line stand to maintain an uneasy 10-point lead.
“It was a tough time, but we’ve been there before,” Montgomery Academy junior defensive back Sam Adams said. “We’ve had a bunch of goal-line stands throughout the season.”
Ranburne had executed a pair of two-point conversions after touchdowns and two onside kicks in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles held the Bulldogs at bay when it mattered most.
“We just dug our heels in,” McCall said.
The Eagles were actually down 7-0 early in the first quarter and was facing a long-yardage situation before Ranburne (10-2) jump-started its first-half scoring spree with a penalty.
The Bulldogs had stopped the Eagles for a loss on a third-and-15 play, but was called for a personal foul. So instead of fourth-and-16 from the Ranburne 34, Montgomery only needed a yard to get the first down.
Thomas got that yard and then some, breaking through the line of scrimmage and racing 19 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
Montgomery Academy forced a punt, and Thomas struck again on a 70-yard punt return as he shook, dodged and blew by the Bulldogs to put the Eagles up for good in the first quarter.
“I just trust my teammates,” Thomas said. “They believe in me, and I believe in them so much. It’s just so great. I know that they got my back and I got theirs. They believe in me to make plays, and they do what they have to do to allow me to make plays.”