O’FALLON • Randall Flotte turned the tides in a blink of an eye.
The Washington running back made the game-winning catch and run at Fort Zumwalt North in the final seconds of a 14-10 victory.
Flotte burned the Panther defense when he hauled in a short, floating pass and then tore off 54 yards down the sideline with 57.4 left in the game.
“It’s a trick play that we’ve been putting in,” Flotte said. “Usually I just run a swing pass in the backfield, but this time I end up going down the field. It seems that the defensive corner always just leaves me, and I’m able to get free. We’ve run it three times now, and I’ve been able to get free. It was hard to run against them. I think they made a tiny, little mistake, and it ended up giving us a win.”
Zumwalt North (3-4) went from elation to deflation in a matter of seconds.
Jake Crowder booted a 30-yard field goal with 3:07 left in the fourth quarter that put Zumwalt North ahead 10-7. Crowder is a recent addition to the team from the Panthers’ soccer team and isn’t even in the game program.
“We worked a little over the summer and gradually got more and more work in,” Zumwalt North coach Joe Bacon said. “He’s looked really good the last couple of weeks, and tonight, that was a pretty impressive field goal. He was nice and calm, and he nailed it. That’s big for him. That’s a big step.”
Despite the sudden swing, the Blue Jays (4-3) weren’t down about the situation.
“After last week with Vianney, three points is not a big deal at all,” Flotte said. “Last week we were down 42-6 and came back (to lose) 49-41.”
Both offenses struggled mightily.
Flotte broke through for the first points of the game with a 69-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, giving Washington a 7-0 lead with 5:25 left in the half.
“I had some great blocking on that run,” Flotte said. “My wide receiver and my linemen both had excellent blocking to where I didn’t have any problems.”
Zumwalt North didn’t get on the scoreboard until early in the fourth quarter.
Justin Fitzpatrick made a diving catch in the end zone on a nicely-timed and well-thrown ball from Zach Hilliard from 14 yards out that tied the game at 7-7 with 10:53 to play.
“I think both defenses stepped up,” Bacon said. “Our defense has been extremely tough all year. In the last couple of games, they’ve felt they haven’t played as well as they have earlier. But they looked great out there and did everything to give us a chance to win.”
Despite having victory snatched from its grasp, Zumwalt North wasn’t going to mull over what could have or what should have been.
“It’s very tough,” Bacon said. “But I have to say this is the mentally toughest group of kids we’ve had. I could not be more proud of the leadership. In the huddle afterwards they are talking about how much they care about each other and how they have to stick together.
"It’s not about pointing blame. A lot of us could have things a little bit better. It’s not about trying to find a scapegoat -- it’s about being brothers and sticking together no matter what.”