At approximately 9:15 p.m. Friday night, bedlam overtook the Presbyterian Christian School field as players, coaches, cheerleaders, color guard, students and parents united to celebrate the Bobcats’ well-earned, historic 28-21 win over the Jackson Academy Raiders.
After a game perhaps best described as bone-jarring, the Bobcats (3-1) stood victorious over Jackson Academy (0-4) for the first time in school history.
“We are just so proud of this football team,” PCS coach Joey Hawkins said. “We found a way to win. Give J.A. credit. They played harder in that game than at any other time by far. They did not make it easy.”
“The whole team came together and played 48 minutes of great football,” senior Brandon Bass said. “Jackson Academy was a great team, but we made plays and got the win. We all thank God for the victory.”
A win of this magnitude required the offense, defense and special teams to post superlatives, and the Bobcats delivered in every category.
Star running back Isaiah Woullard rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns while junior Destin Payton added 126 yards and a score of his own.
The Presbyterian defense accounted for six tackles for loss, five sacks and an interception while the special teams — be they oriented on punts, kicks or returns — delivered at key moments throughout the contest.
In the immediate aftermath of the game and among a growing number of well-wishers and elated players, the normally verbose Hawkins struggled to put his team’s performance into words.
“We made great plays,” a beaming Hawkins said. “We’re all just excited … The key is to build off this win and get ready to play next week. Champions come ready to play every week.”
Presbyterian took a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Woullard. It was a drive that featured runs of 27 and 15 by Payton.
Jackson Academy responded with a 44-yard touchdown pass from Noah Thigpen to Steven Winford but a botched extra point allowed Presbyterian to maintain a 7-6 lead.
Bobcat punter Luke Logan set up the next score by booming a punt 76 yards to the Jackson Academy 5, one of three punts he downed inside the 10 on the night.
After the Presbyterian defense forced a three-and-out, the Bobcats took over at their own 49.
Seven plays later, Woullard bounced off of multiple tacklers en route to a 13-yard touchdown and a 14-6 lead.
On the Raiders’ next possession, Presbyterian defensive back Justin Lowery intercepted a pass deep in his own territory.
After five plays, one of them a 35-yard run by Payton on fourth down inside the PCS 30, the Bobcats took a 21-6 lead just before the break thanks to a 42-yard pass from Luke Hudson to Bass.
The Raiders made short work of getting back into the game.
Jackson Academy turned the first possession of the second half into eight points with a 45-yard pass from Thigpen to Langston Anderson and a successful two-point conversion that cut the Bobcat lead to 21-14.
The Raiders tied the game on their next possession on a 10-yard pass from Thigpen to Davis Magee.
The game was far from over, but Presbyterian logged the winning score on its next possession.
On the ensuing kickoff, Woullard waived off the up man, Payton, picked up an odd-bouncing kick at his 22 and returned the ball to the Jackson Academy 40.
The Bobcats covered that 40 yards in six plays and reclaimed the lead, 28-21, with a 9-yard run by Payton.
From there, it was hit and be hit for both teams until the Bobcat defense turned the Raiders away empty-handed on a last-second Hail Mary.
Presbyterian returns to action next week in Clinton, Louisiana, with a visit to Silliman.
“This was a big win, but we have a lot of big games ahead of us,” Bass said. “We just have to stay focused.”