It’s been 63 days since the Loyola Flyers last won a football game. It will be 63 years before they have another win like they won they got Friday night as Messmer Stadium.
Incredible? That would be a good start in describing the Flyers 21-20 win over Woodlawn in a District 1-4A game.
This was a game in which the Flyers got a first down on a punt that they kicked, recovered behind the line of scrimmage in mid-air and ran for a first down.
The winning touchdown was scored by a 260-pound nose tackle who had never carried the ball in his life. That came after the Flyers had fumbled into the end on the same drive that had been kept alive by the strange punt-but-we-keep-it first down.
But most of all for the Flyers, it was pure happiness.
“To see all that happiness after the game,” said Alan Carter after one of the craziest games in his longest coaching career, “is worth it all.”
It looked like the worst of the losses in the Flyers’ season was about to happen until sophomore Miles Mitchell – a defensive tackle – blocked a Woodlawn punt with his right hand with 34 seconds to play. The ball was batted around and suddenly found into the large hands of nose tackle Khalil Sumlin, who caught it in mid-stride and “raced” 12 yards into the end zone.
Sophomore Josh Hawboldt, who hadn’t missed an extra point all year, kept that streak alive and the Flyers, left for dead only a minute earlier, had the lead.
“I just saw the ball right in front of me,” Sumlin said. “So I grabbed it and took off.”
But the fun wasn’t over. After a squib kick and a 25-yard pass, Woodlawn was at the Loyola 20 with 22 seconds to play, but two incompletions and a fumble recovery by Rodney Rollins ended the game and set off a wild celebration.
“We have played well enough to win so many games this year,” Carter said. “But we just haven’t been able to finish games. The kids got down a little bit, but they hung in there. They really deserved this and I am so proud of them.”
Woodlawn coach Jerwin Wilson had little to say after the game. “We just came up short,” he said. “We have to correct some issues.”
The wild finish wasn’t the only time craziness happened in this game.
The Knights scored first on an 8-yard run by Jordan Davidson, but the Flyers took the lead on a 66-yard fumble return by Austin Townsend with 5:51 to play before halftime.
Woodlawn then drove down and scored on fourth-down with a 16-yard pass from Treveion Youngblood to Wesley Riser, but just when it looked like the Flyers might head into the locker room down 14-7, Carter Windham caught an out-route from Bishop George and raced down the sideline for a 61-yard score to make it 14-all with 26 seconds left.