The Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School football team needed a break, the ball to bounce its way a few times.
It did just that last Friday night and the Gators pounced, coming from three touchdowns behind in the second half for a 28-27 win at Tallahassee John Paul II.
The win snaps a three-game losing streak after opening the regular season with a win.
Wewahitchka hosts Northside Methodist Academy out of Dothan, AL 7 p.m. CT Friday night.
Wewahitchka coach Bobby Johns said his team, which finished last week’s game with just 15 healthy players in uniform, simply needed the win.
“We just needed a victory, at home or on the road, anywhere, we needed a win right now,” Johns said.
And it was not just the losing, but how the Gators lost.
They led Bozeman in the second half and lost and were tied with North Bay Haven in the second half and lost.
The Gators even stayed close with Tallahassee Maclay for much of their contest before Maclay ran away in the final quarter.
“We have not been able to finish games,” Johns said. “No excuses; that is our job, to win games.
“But when you are playing 18 or 19 guys, and some of them get banged up, it is tough. Among our seniors, we have several who have never played football (in the three years Johns has been at the school).
“But as I tell the kids, nobody cares about all of that. They care whether you win or lose.”
And last week, a broken hand here and another injury there and the Gators were playing with 15 players in uniform by the end.
“We needed good things to happen to us, but we have not been able to make good things happen,” Johns said. “We just needed a little bit of luck, the ball to bounce right.
“Suddenly, last Friday, they did.”
The Gators lit the scoreboard first, taking the opening kickoff down the field for a touchdown run by Tyreeq Thomas; the two-point conversion failed.
Two turnovers reversed any momentum.
A fumble inside the Gator 20 led to a John Paul touchdown; an extra-point kick made it 7-6.
Another fumble deep in Gator territory turned into another John Paul score and it was 14-6 John Paul at halftime.
The second half continued the trend with John Paul taking the opening kickoff and marching to another touchdown; the extra point kick failed and it was 20-6.
The first spark of comeback life for Wewahitchka came after the John Paul offensive center went down with an injury, a tricky injury considering John Paul was in the shotgun.
A bad snap on the ensuing drive was recovered by Wewahitchka near the John Paul 40 and Thomas completed the march with another touchdown run.
The two-point conversion was good.
On the very next possession, a mangled snap was again fumbled, the Gators recovering and turning it into an Alex Williams touchdown run.
The conversion failed but suddenly the Gators were within 27-20.
“I felt real good about our kids not shutting down,” Johns said. “You could see the demeanor change.”
Wewahitchka kicked short on the ensuring kickoff, the ball bouncing off a John Paul player right back toward the onrushing group of Gators, who recovered with 5:00 left.
Shortly thereafter, Williams ran for another touchdown and the Gators took the lead 28-27 after converting a two-point conversion run.
John Paul marched right back down the field until facing a fourth-and-13 deep inside Gator territory with seconds left.
The final play covered just 12 yards, though, and the Gators had a badly-needed win.