Going into the final quarter down 17 to the state's top team and a top 25 ranked team nationally, you would think an average team would throw in the towel. The La Salle Explorers aren't the average team Wood would have liked to face instead. Down 17 in the final quarter and the Explorers come back. They win the game. Easily the biggest game of the season for both teams and the Explorers get it done. Before we get to the fun stuff, we should probably look at the events leading up to this legendary fourth quarter comeback.
Wood started with the ball on their own one yard line. The ball was actually placed between the one and the goal line after a muffed kick by Wood. That didn't stop RB Jarrett McClenton. After escaping the endzone start, McClenton ran for his first touchdown of the night on a 56 yard run up the sideline netting Wood an early 7-0 lead. The Explorers quickly answered back as they drive down the field, and senior RB Jordan Meachum runs it in from seven yards out. End of the first quarter and the game is tied 7-7. Each team only had one possession by the end of it. The next touchdown of the game came again from Wood RB Jarrett McClenton who ran it in from 30 yards. La Salle answered back once again on a touchdown set up by a beautiful trick play. Kyle Shurmur to a diving Jimmy Herron (get ready to hear that a lot) in the endzone and the Explorers tie it back up. With less than 30 seconds in the half, Wood receives the kick, McClenton takes off for a 60 yard run, which sets up the Wood field goal from about 45 yards out. The kick bounces off the front of the goal post and through the uprights. It's good and Wood takes a 17-14 lead into halftime.
The second half started largely in favor of the Vikings. Their defense played solid, their offense put up more points, and took a 31-14 lead late in the third. Then things changed. La Salle was forced out by the Wood defense once again, the punt from the Explorers is muffed by the Vikings and the Explorers recover on their own 40. That moment right there. Something magical happened. Something about it said "Explorers have a chance". So they took that muffed punt and turned it into a touchdown. Shurmur to Herron to be exact. So, the Explorers defense holds the Vikings, force a punt, and once again the Explorers score a touchdown. Want to take a guess who scored it? If you guessed Shurmur to Herron, you guessed right. Explorers trailed 31-28.
The "I believe we will win" chants from the Wood student section slowly faded out. The Wood sideline in general had to take a breath. Explorers cut a 17 point lead to a 3 point lead just like that.
Wood received the ball and on the very next play fumbled the ball away to the Explorers at midfield. The Explorers didn't waste any time. The pass from Shurmur to Herron is complete. Herron runs up the sideline. 53 yards later, he's in. Touchdown. Explorers lead 35-31. The Explorer defense holds for the rest of the night. Explorers upset Archbishop Wood 35-31.
The Explorers just got it done. Senior QB Kyle Shurmur threw for 273 yards on 19-31 passing and four touchdowns. Senior WR Jimmy Herron finished with eight catches for 132 yards and four touchdowns. Junior WR Winston Eubanks also had five catches for 50 yards. All credit goes to the whole Explorer team. The defense held late in the game when it really mattered. They forced the key turnovers and kept McClenton out of the fourth quarter.
McClenton finished with 292 rushing yards on 27 carries for three touchdowns. The kid is legit, there's no denying it. Other than that, Wood only threw for 38 yards passing. Sure, Wood is largely a one dimensional running team, but they execute it well. Having a player like Ryan Bates on the line just helps. Wood played a solid game, but playing behind without a passing threat late in the game really hurts and it showed.
This game will easily be considered one of the city's most classic games for years to come, there is no doubt in my mind. Wood will move on to play O'Hara next week. La Salle will move on to play St. Joe's Prep in another huge rivalry game for the Explorers. Expect full coverage throughout the week.
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