Saints tame Northview Cougars

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2004

Northview High School came to Selma Friday night dreaming of snapping a 34-game losing streak at the expense of the home-standing Saints at Memorial Stadium.

They nearly pulled it off.

After three quarters in which the teams moved up and down the field, traded turnovers and each recorded a safety, the Saints did enough in the fourth quarter to walk away with a 22-20 win and improve to 1-2 on the season.

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“The Selma High football team has made a tremendous step,” second-year head coach Woodrow Lowe Jr. said. “Even though they made some mistakes, we played four quarters.

We’ve just got to clean up on the mistakes and move on from there.”

The Saints offense led the way, combing an impressive rushing attack with an opportunistic passing game to move the ball effectively against the Cougars.

Stephan Woods, a 5-foot-4 junior running back, had a huge night for the Saints.

Every time the blockers gave him some daylight, Woods danced through the defense like he was wearing magic shoes. He ended the night with an apparent ankle injury, but finished with 108 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also racked up more than 100 more all-purpose yards in the return game.

“I give the credit to my linemen. I love the way they blocked tonight. They’re moving up,” Woods said. “It feels good to be able to get into that space and move around and shake.”

Woods showed off that shake along with a little shimmy on the most thrilling run of the night.

The Saints took the opening drive and on the sixth play, Woods broke loose.

Starting on the Cougars’ 43, Woods juked a tackler in the backfield and made another miss 3 yards later.

He broke through a seam and rambled to the 20.

A pair of Cougars met Woods there, one jumping on his back.

Woods shook free again and sped the rest of the way to the end zone.

“They thought I was going to go down on the first hit, I had to show them I was stronger than that,” Woods said.

“He has worked hard. He’s been one of those Warriors that’s been here from day one, working every day.” Lowe said. “You like to see kids that work hard reap the benefit.”

Woods wasn’t Selma’s only weapon.

Sophomore Michael Miller added 76 yards on 14 carries and showed some impressive moves.

“We call him ‘Jim Brown’ because of his running style,” Lowe said. “He’s a very powerful runner, he breaks a lot of tackles.”

Fullback Clarence Walker added 26 yards on five carries for the Saints.

Saints quarterback Quin Pernell and the passing game nearly broke the game open several times.

The Saints connected on one touchdown bomb as Pernell hit Robert Childers on a 44-yard play, but they just missed on several more occasions.

“They work had on the passing game, we just try to prepare for all situations,” Lowe said.

Northview had some weapons as well.

Running back Justin Brooks had 73 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries.

The big back gouged Selma for chunks of yards at a time, but left the game with a limp late in the fourth quarter. Six other backs carried for positive yardage for the Cougars.

In the second half, the Cougars found their passing game.

A.J. Batts was 5 of 12 for 87 yards.

Selma started the game off hot.

After the opening drive, capped by Woods’ 43-yard scamper, the Saints led 6-0.

After holding the Cougars of Dothan, the Saints got the ball back and Woods returned the punt 62-yards to the 3-yard line.

But the Saints lost yardage on first down and the drive ended when Pernell was picked off in the end zone.

Taking advantage of several Selma penalties, the Cougars drove out of the shadow of their own end zone and flipped field position.

The Saints forced a punt, but Northview pinned them back at their own 3.

Two plays later, a fumbled snap rolled into the end zone and Pernell fell on it for a safety that cut the lead to 6-2.

The Cougars responded with another long drive, breaking off yardage in chunks of 5 and 6 each run.

They moved to a first and goal at the six, but the drive stalled at the 3-yard line and Selma took over with time running out in the half.

Selma used the ground game to march to the Cougar 44.

With just over a minute left, Pernell took the snap, rolled to his left and avoided a tackler grabbing at his shoulder.

Once in the clear, Pernell fired a rainbow bomb over the heads of the defense to a wide-open Robert Childers.

Childers made the basket catch and walked into the end zone for a 12-2 lead with 1:10 left in the half.

Tony Carroll took the ensuing kick all the way from his 23 to the Selma 18.

After a pair of incomplete passes, a reverse picked up eight yards and set up Brooks Latta’s 26-yard field goal with 13 seconds left.

Latta was true and the teams went to the half with Selma leading 12-5.

Northview took the opening kick of the second half and marched methodically downfield using the ground game.

Brooks punched it in from 3-yards out and cut the Selma lead to a point. A little trickery on the extra point try resulted in two points as the Cougars faked the kick and ran the ball up the middle for the lead.

Selma responded with a touchdown drive and a 1-yard Pernell touchdown run.

Miller added the two-point conversion for the 20-13 lead.

Selma’s Michael Acoff recovered a Cougar fumble and Selma went for the knockout.

Pernell lobbed another bomb to Childers in the back of the end zone.

Childers tried to get a foot down, but he was ruled out of bounds. Selma was later forced to punt.

The defense came through again as Jerel Belton fell on another Cougar fumble.

Selma moved the ball inside the Cougar 15 before fumbling it back.

An illegal substitution flag pushed the Cougar to their own four and Acoff, Tommy Williams and Benjamin Deundra combined to catch a Cougar runner in the end zone for the second safety of the night and a 22-13 lead.

After a Selma punt, the Saints defense looked solid holding the Cougars to a fourth-and-two at the Selma 47. Batts looked for the homerun and hit Tyler Black down the left sideline for a huge gain down to the 2-yard line.

The Saints held for three downs but on fourth, the Cougars punched it into the end zone.

The extra point cut the lead to 22-20.

The Saints managed to run most of the clock off before giving the ball to Northview at the 27 with 1:39 to go.

The Cougars drove within Hail Mary range, and nearly completed a pass at the Selma 25-yard line with plenty of time left.

Batts’ pass hit Dillon Ward in the hands, but Selma defensive back Roderick West swooped in and blasted the receiver, knocking the ball loose.

The Cougars’ other desperation heaves missed their mark and Selma held on for the win.

The Saints, who missed the last two weeks because of hurricanes, now have a scheduled bye week before getting back to work against Sidney Lanier at home on Oct. 8.