Steven Duckworth clutched his chest in jest.
"My heart's beating more than a mile a minute," the Woodford County senior quarterback said smiling. "Too many more of these games, and it might stop altogether."
It was a heart stopper on one side and a heart breaker on the other as the visiting Jackets came back from 10 points down early and then held on beat Bryan Station 24-17 Friday night.
The Woodford defense forced a fumble on the 1-yard line that kept Station quarterback Brady Boling from scoring the game-tying touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining.
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"Our defense did a fantastic job," Duckworth said. "They really picked us up. In the past weeks it's been the offense having to lift the defense, but this time they really saved us. My love and respect go to those guys."
The Station players and coaches thought Boling crossed into the end zone, but officials didn't see it that way.
"Officials don't win or lose ball games," Coach Oliver Lucas said. "We have to control our own destinies. We saw it differently, but it's in the eye of the beholder. We wanted to see it that he crossed the goal line, but they said he fumbled."
Woodford Coach Chris Tracy said the final stop that got the Jackets their fifth straight win over Station was "pure luck."
He saw the ball go off the helmet of one of his players and roll into the end zone.
"There were bodies flying all over, and we were trying to get the ball in the end zone, luckily we did," senior linebacker Jordan Carter said. "Once we had it, it was a great feeling because we knew all we had to do was run out the clock."
The Jackets fell behind early 10-0 after the Defenders got off to a blazing start thanks to a Patrick Cornett 69-yard run on their second play. Cornett finished with 130 yards on 23 carries to lead Station.
After a Jose Marin 31-yard field goal gave Station a 10-0 lead, Woodford responded by scoring four touchdowns in the course of six minutes to take the 24-10 lead.
The Jackets needed only three minutes to tie up the game and take the momentum into halftime.
With 3:05 remaining in the first half, Woodford's Wil Blincoe picked off a Boling pass at the 41-yard line to set up the Jackets' scoring drive, a 12-yard scamper by Duckworth.
He had 76 yards on 15 carries and passed for 213 more. The senior had a running and passing TD for Woodford.
The Jackets weren't done yet. On the kickoff, Corey Courtney forced an Earl McCann fumble and teammate Nick Walling pounced on it to give Woodford the ball back at the 18-yard line.
Jay Tackett tied it up as the clock expired with a 30-yard line drive through the uprights to make it 10-10 at the break.
"Going into the half tied, that was huge for us," Duckworth said.
Two straight turnovers by Station gave the Jackets a 24-10 lead early in the third quarter. First, backup quarterback Michael Winkler was picked off by Carter, who took the ball 34 yards for a touchdown.
Four seconds later, Cornett fumbled and on the next play Chris Jones collected a 27-yard pass from Duckworth and scored.
"It's just a group of seniors willing themselves to win," Tracy said. "It was one of those things tonight — it was like bend but don't break and that's what we did."
Station didn't die, though.
Late in the third quarter, which included five turnovers between the two teams, McCann grabbed a Duckworth pass out of the air and returned it 55 yards for the score to make it 24-17 and keep the Defenders within striking distance.
But the goal line was as close as they'd get after that.
"The difference between Woodford and us is they made the play they had to make and we didn't," Lucas said. "Our kids are still learning how to win. We're still a good team, and it will come together."
WOODFORD CO. 24, BRYAN STATION 17
Woodford Co. 0 10 14 0—24
Bryan Station 7 3 7 0—17
BS—Patrick Cornett 69 run (Jose Marin kick); BS—Marin 31 FG; WC—Steven Duckworth 12 run (Jay Tackett kick); WC—Tackett 30 FG; WC—Jordan Carter 34 interception return (Tackett kick); WC—Chris Jones 28 pass Duckworth (Tackett kick); BS—Earl McCann 55 interception return (Marin kick)
Records: Woodford Co. 3-1, Bryan Station 2-2.
First downs 13 16
Rushing yards 56 190
Passing yards 213 145
Passes 22-35-1 11-22-3
Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-3
Penalties 6-84 7-67
Punts 5-155 3-95