WOODRUFF - Woodruff's perfect season came to an end Friday night at the hands of a familiar playoff foe.
Batesburg-Leesville stunned the previously unbeaten Wolverines 24-17 in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs at Varner Stadium behind K.J. Johnson's two second-half touchdown runs.
Johnson's 44-yard run on an option up the middle set up his 1-yard game-winning touchdown plunge with four seconds to play.
"It was an option. All I could do was read it," Johnson said. "I saw (running back) Ricky (Adams) get hit at the line, so I hit the hole. I had to step on a few people, but I got there."
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Johnson's run ended at the Woodruff 11-yard-line, and four plays later the Panthers (8-4) were in the end zone and headed to the next round of the playoffs. Batesburg-Leesville will travel to Abbeville for a quarterfinal matchup.
A stubborn Woodruff (11-1) defense kept Batesburg-Leesville in check for the first half, allowing 66 yards on 20 plays from scrimmage. Even so, the half ended in a 10-all tie thanks to Batesburg-Leesville's defense. Isaiah Langford's 28-yard return of a Jake Lambert pass for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage put the Panthers ahead 7-0.
Woodruff's potent offense - with Lambert at the trigger - struggled to find consistency most of the night, but Lambert scored the second of his two rushing touchdowns to cap Woodruff's opening drive of the third quarter, which was set up by Jake Robinson's fumble recovery. Lambert's 2-yard run put the Wolverines ahead 17-10 with 9:56 remaining in the third quarter.
Despite a second turnover by the Panthers - an interception by Johnson late in the third - Batesburg-Leesville tied the score at 17-17 on Johnson's 42-yard scamper with 1:15 left in the third period.
Johnson finished with 128 yards on 18 carries and completed 5 of 15 passes for 79 yards.
Woodruff was stopped inside the red zone three times, turning the ball over on downs in the first quarter at the Panthers' 3, missing a third-quarter field goal after reaching the Panthers' 19 and again in the third quarter when sophomore Shun Tribble, spinning toward the end zone, fumbled at the Panthers' 1 at the end of a 21-yard run.
The fumble was recovered by Jamal Bryant in the end zone and the Wolverines never seriously threatened again.
Tribble ran for a game-high 140 yards on 19 carries, and Lambert added 110 yards on 18 carries along with 132 yards on 12 of 34 passes with an interception.
"That's a good football team over there," said Woodruff coach Brian Lane. "You cannot in the playoffs not execute and expect to win, and that's what happened to us tonight. But my hat's off to Batesburg-Leesville. They did a great job."