After a nearly even first half, Decatur’s offense sputtered, stalled and finally succumbed in the second half of Friday’s 33-14 loss to Woodward Academy at the Decatur High Stadium.
The Bulldogs trailed only 16-14 at intermission, with the one major flaw in the first 24 minutes being a high snap over quarterback Devontae Carter’s head. That ball sailed through the end zone for a safety, giving Woodward a 9-7 lead with 10:46 left in the second quarter.
For the longest time it appeared that misguided snap would seal Decatur’s doom.
After Woodward took a 7-0 lead on its first possession, Decatur tied it late in the quarter in spectacular fashion. On second down from his own 28, Carter flipped five-yard pass to Terez Cowan, who was hit so hard he flipped over, landed on a prostrate opponent’s back and continued racing 72 yards down the sideline for a touchdown.
“It was just a basic short route,” Terez said. “I knew when I landed on the guy’s back I was still alive, that the whistle wasn’t going to blow, and if I could just get on my feet I could go a long way.”
But the safety nearly four minutes later gave an uneasy edge to one of the larger Decatur crowds in recent years. Things oly got worse when Woodward quarterback Terry Googer ran five yards to give his team a 16-7 lead with 8:15 left until halftime.
On the ensuing kickoff, Perez Cowan nearly duplicated his identical twin’s athleticism. He received the kick inside the 10, got hit at least twice and was spun nearly 360 degrees before bursting to the outside and racing 84 yards. He was tackled eight yards shy of a touchdown.
After a Decatur penalty, Carter threw a fade pass to Terryon Robinson, who leaped, reached in front of the safety, batted the ball in the air and caught it on his way down for a 13-yard touchdown.
Robinson, still suffering from a high-ankle sprain, caught a 37-yard pass later in the half, but he clearly isn’t 100 percent.
The Decatur offense disappeared in the second half. The Cowans, the team’s top two receivers, spent large stretches on the sidelines when Decatur had the ball.
“I know that coach was upset with me and my twin,” Terez said. “We didn’t execute very good, and I think that’s why we kept getting pulled on offense.”
Coach Brad Waggoner added, “They had some problems blocking and generally not doing what they were supposed to do. But we had a lot of offensive breakdowns, and I’m not about to put it all on the twins. Frankly, I think Terez and Perez both got tired. My philosophy is, if you’re gonna rest, then rest on offense. You can’t rest on defense.”
Decatur only ran 18 plays in the second half for a mere 30 yards. Out of six second half- possessions, the Bulldogs ran three plays or fewer five times.
For the sophomore quarterback Carter, it was a night of growing pains. He completed 6 of 19 passes for 105 yards, 72 of those on the one pass to Terez. He did not complete his last 11 passes, one of which was intercepted, and another fumbled behind scrimmage without being caught.
The interception gave Woodward the ball at Decatur’s 13, leading to a 26-yard field goal with 5:49 left in the game. The fumble put it on Decatur’s 18, leading to a 17-yard touchdown pass that gave Woodward its final margin with 4:33 left.
All but two of Woodward’s scoring drives began in Decatur territory, and of the two that didn’t, one began on Woodward’s 47, the other on its 43.
“I thought the defense, including Terez and Perez, was outstanding,” Waggoner said. “The offense just kept giving it to them in terrible field position, and that was the story of this game.”
It doesn’t get easier for the Bulldogs, who have lost two in a row and are now 3-3 overall and 0-2 in Region 6-AAA. Decatur plays its third consecutive region game next Friday at Blessed Trinity in a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Blessed, 4-1, was off this week after beating Woodward 21-14 last Friday.
“We need to come out and have a really good week of practice,” Terez Cowan said. “If we can do that, and stay focused, we can turn this thing around.”