The game was over and the stadium almost empty. Standing astride the 50-yard line, Woodinville quarterback Will Jack wore the jersey of a fallen teammate while grinning gloriously.
"The team stuck with it and did an amazing job tonight," he said. "I’m really proud of everyone."
Jack’s words came in the wake of an amazing comeback, where his touchdown pass to Micah Hamilton in the game’s closing seconds led Woodinville to a 23-20 win over Redmond. The victory, televised regionally by Root Sports, boosted the Falcons record to 5-2, while handing the Mustangs their second defeat of the season.
Playing once again without injured star running backs Wyatt Smith and Alek Kacmarcik, Woodinville entered the game disadvantaged. But they battled and stayed close, aided greatly by solid defense and a power running game.
Defensive back Ian Biddle didn’t have big numbers, but he intercepted a pass and his presence was felt all over the field.
Sophomore linebacker Dylan Axelson, converted to tailback this week, opened eyes with 80 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Junior Brad Roland also stepped up, accumulating 114 yards on the ground, much of it between the tackles. This included an epic 36-yard run, where Roland ran over and through several Mustang defenders, refusing to surrender, while dragging tacklers downfield in a manner befitting Marshawn Lynch.
But this night came down to the game’s final minutes. Trailing 20-16, Woodinville faced a 4th and 4 at midfield. It was do-or-die, and Jack completed a 9-yard pass to Drew Accimus for the first down.
"The play call was a May Day," Jack said. "It was an outside comeback ... And I knew that the cornerback would be backing up, so as soon as I saw Drew come out of the break I threw it and he caught it. It was perfect."
Two plays later, with less than a minute left, Woodinville had the ball on the Redmond 22-yard line.
Jack took the snap and rolled right, before firing a dart into the back corner of the end zone, into the waiting arms of receiver Micah Hamilton, and the Pop Keeney crowd went bonkers.
"I saw just a little opening in the back of the end zone," Jack said. "So I put it only where he could catch it. And he did. It was a great grab, a great catch."
Redmond’s last gasp attempt at a drive ended on an Ian Biddle interception. And with that, the Falcons ran out the clock.
Wildly happy Woodinville players charged the field and celebrated around head coach Wayne Maxwell.
"We were enjoying the moment," Maxwell said. "You’d better! To win the game like that, such a great team effort. The guys up front, led by Andre Dillard, did a great job. But it wasn’t just one thing. It was somebody different stepping up on each play. That was the most exciting part of the game. I told them they deserved every ounce of what they got tonight."
And as happy players and coaches straggled off the field toward the locker room, and giddy fans made their way to the exits, Will Jack stood astride midfield, wearing Wyatt Smith’s jersey, talking to a reporter.
"I wanted to do something special for Wyatt," he said. "He’s a senior, so potentially he may never play football again.
"It’s a season ending injury and he doesn’t have any college offers yet, so we don’t know. But he’s my running back and he’s one of my best friends. This win was for him."
Woodinville next plays Bothell at Pop Keeney Stadium October 25 at 7 p.m.