Heathwood Hall senior linebacker Walker Sojourner stepped up for the play that possibly saved the Highlanders' season with 58 seconds to go in Friday's first-round SCISA playoff game against Porter-Gaud.
Sojourner led a wave of Heathwood tacklers that engulfed Cyclones running back Galen Givens-Rowlin on a two-point conversion run that allowed the undefeated Highlanders to escape with a 28-26 victory.
"The key was reading the fullback, and I just reacted," Sojourner said. "I had a lot of help when I got to (Givens-Rowlin). It was a great time for us to make a great play. We had a difficult time (on defense) tonight, but it's the playoffs and a win's a win."
Coach Rip Blackstone echoed that theme.
"We won, we're moving on and we'll put this game behind us," he said.
"We should have expected this kind of game because Porter-Gaud took us down to the wire in the first game of the season. The only difference was there weren't as many big plays offensively. It's a three-game season, and we have one."
The visiting Cyclones rallied from a 28-12 deficit in the late stages of the fourth quarter. P-G turned an interception and blocked field goals into two scoring drives.
Stanton Seckinger's 15-yard scoring catch from Hudson Worthy and Seckinger's two-point conversion catch pulled the Cyclones within 28-20 with 5:38 left. Seckinger's 36-yard catch was the highlight of the next drive, which Worthy capped with a 1-yard run with 58 seconds left.
"Porter-Gaud kept coming at us, but we finally made the stop we had to make," said Sojourner, who also had three touchdown runs.
The Highlanders finished with 198 yards rushing, and Mac Whalen was 14-for-30 passing for 216 yards and one touchdown. Whalen had 98 yards rushing on 21 carries, but had three turnovers.
The problem on defense was Seckinger. The Cyclones' 6-foot-6 junior burned the Highlanders' secondary with 222 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches.
"He's a really good player," Sojourner said.
Heathwood Hall sacked Worthy six times, but he did not flinch under the pressure. The sophomore quarterback connected on 25 of 39 passes for 395 yards.
Sojourner's 13-yard scoring run at 2:59 of the third quarter was the game-winner.
The Highlanders will play host to Laurence Manning in the semifinal round next week.
Porter-Gaud 12 0 0 14-26
Heathwood Hall 14 7 7 0-28
HH - Walker Sojourner 29 run (Cole Fowble kick), 8:52
PG - Stanton Seckinger 43 pass from Hudson Worthy (pass failed), 6:27
PG - Seckinger 15 pass from Worthy (run failed), 4:06
HH - Morgan Whalen 35 pass from Mac Whalen (Fowble kick), 1:33
HH - Sojourner 8 run (Fowble kick), 6:47
HH - Sojourner 13 run (Fowble kick), 2:59
PG - Seckinger 15 pass from Worthy (Seckinger pass from George Campsen), 5:38
PG - Worthy 1 run (run failed), 0:58
First downs 13 22
Rushing 14-(-31) 41-198
Passing yards 395 216
Att-Com-Int 39-25-0 30-14-2
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties 7-68 5-45
Punts 4-128 1-14
Rushing - PG, Campsen 5-2, Givens-Rowlin 3-8, Worthy 9-(-41). HH, Ma. Whalen 21-98, Sojourner 14-77, Shine 5-24, English 1-(-1)
Passing - PG, Worthy 25-39-395. HH, Ma. Whalen 14-30-2-216.
Receiving - PG, Seckinger 9-222, Givens-Rowlin 3-52, Barber 4-37, Daughtridge 6-56, Campsen 1-3, Engle 1-25. HH, Mo. Whalen 4-65, Dubose 1-13, English 2-45, Sojourner 2-22, Stern 5-71.