Football: Tigers lose close one against Corcoran Panthers, 23-21

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A fumble on Woodlake’s last drive costs gives Corcoran a chance at a field goal for the win

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

CORCORAN – The Woodlake Tigers fought hard to get the chance to win their first East Sequoia League (ESL) game on Friday night against the previously winless Corcoran Panthers only to have that chance vanish by a last-second field goal 23-21. The loss puts the Tigers in last place in the ESL, along with Sierra Pacific.

“Definitely this one is a tough loss,” said Woodlake head coach Jeff Johnson. “But they kept fighting.”

Woodlake (3-4; 0-2) had fought back from a 20 deficit to take their first lead of the game 21-20 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was a 10-yard run by the Tigers.

With the lead, the Tiger defense stepped up big and forced the Panthers to a three and out.

It looked as if the Tigers were going to be able to run the clock out and escape with the win, until Corcoran recovered a Woodlake fumble with a minute left in the game.

The Panthers (1-6; 1-1) only needed 20 yards to get into field goal range, which they did, and set up the game-winning score. It was a 17-yarder that drove the spike into the heart of the Tigers.

Earlier in the game, Corcoran dominated on the ground in the first half and jump out to a 20-0 lead.

However, the hope of the Tigers remained as one adjustment was made after another to get them back into the game. The biggest one was a switch at quarterback. Sophomore Damian Hernandez went down in the first quarter with a leg injury. As of press time, there is no diagnosis or timeline of return.

Henry Hagen took over for Hernandez at quarterback. Still, taking some reps at the position, Hagen looked as if he never stopped playing quarterback. On his second play of the game Hagen connected with a receiver on a 39-yard fade route for the Tigers’ first score.

“Once Hagen got back into the swing of things he was a very good quarterback,” said Coach Johnson.

Hagen added another 10-yard pass in the second half, which closed the Panther lead to 20-14.

Even though the Tigers let the game slip through their fingers, Johnson is pleased with the way his players are handling the loss. He noted that some players have already reached out to him with questions on how to get better.

Even while in the locker room at half time, Johnson said that his players were talking about technique and fundamentals. “They were all still extremely excited,” he said.

Next Friday night, the Tigers welcome to town the Lindsay Cardinals in the hopes of getting their own homecoming night win. The Cardinals are coming off a 14-0 loss to the Granite Hills Grizzlies.

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