Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic already drove down the field for a score and appeared to have another touchdown in hand.
But, a strip of SJCC running back Benton Snyder was recovered in the end zone by freshman Myles Pinkston and Willard recovered and rolled the Streaks, 44-20, in Sandusky Bay Conference River division action on Friday at Don Paul Stadium.
"Our problem is we can not replicate people in practice because we have a ton of injuries and it is just hard for us to give a look on scout," Willard coach Britton Devier said. "I think coming out early, it is like we have to adjust to the speed of the game because we can not show it in practice."
Willard improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the league while SJCC fell to 3-4, 1-3. The Flashes' passing game was in full effect as Cooper Parrott completed 21-of-33 passes for 403 yards.
SJCC got a three-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Chase Harrison to open the game's scoring on the first drive of the game.
Willard was immediately faced with a 4th and 2 decision at its own 48-yard line. The Flashes opted to go for it, but were stuffed for a two-yard loss. SJCC again marched right down the field and were at the Willard 22 when Snyder took the handoff and fumbled at the three-yard line.
The Flashes instantly cashed in as Parrott went 80 yards for the touchdown. The two-point try was no good, but Willard had avoided disaster.
In the second quarter, Parrott and Jerett Sowers each intercepted Harrison. It was after Jerett's interception that Parrott hit Sowers for a 26-yard pass. Two plays later, Parrott scored from three yards out for the touchdown. Sowers connected on a pass to Parrott for the two-point conversion.
After missing his first four passes, Parrott got hot in the second quarter. He hit four straight passes - all for 12 yards or more - to get inside the SJCC 10-yard line. Sowers rumbled in from two yards out to push Willard ahead, 20-7, with 3:44 left in the second quarter.
The Streaks responded on the ensuing drive. Harrison found Grant Stepanic for a 37-yard pickup then covered the final 28 yards himself. Alex Baez added his second extra point to get SJCC within 20-14.
But, Willard came back and executed the two-minute offense to near perfection. The drive was jumpstarted as Parrott scrambled and hit Pinkston for a 36-yard pickup and later, a 27-yard gain to the SJCC 2. Sowers added his second touchdown - this time from a yard out - as Willard took a 26-14 lead at halftime.
The offense picked up right where it left off for Willard in the third quarter. Joey Holida hauled in a 34-yard pass from Parrott and the Flashes scored when Parrott found a wide-open Brevon Polachek for a 27-yard touchdown less than two minutes into the quarter.
SJCC did not pick up any first downs in the third quarter. Instead, Willard dominated and added a 35-yard touchdown pass from Parrott to Polachek with 6:40 left. The Flashes threatened again later as Parrott connected with Andrew Bostic for a 41-yard pass, but the drive stalled at the SJCC four-yard line.
Jonathan Rothhaar recovered a Streaks fumble in the fourth quarter. That led to another touchdown drive for Willard. Parrott hit Polachek for 18 yards, Bostic for 24 yards, and Pinkston for a 17-yard touchdown and 44-14 lead with 7:28 left.
"It is a good win for us to move to having a winning record now," Devier said. "We still have a lot of stuff ahead of us. If we can win out, we can still get a share of the league title, so that is what we are working for right now. It is one week at a time."
Willard 6 20 12 6 — 44
SJCC 7 7 0 6 — 20
SJ — Chase Harrison 3 run (Alex Baez kick)
W — Cooper Parrott 80 run (pass failed)
W — Jerett Sowers 3 run (Parrott pass from Sowers)
W — Sowers 2 run (run failed)
SJ — Harrison 28 run (Baez kick)
W — Sowers run (pass failed)
W — Brevon Polachek 26 pass from Parrott (pass failed)
W — Polacheck 35 pass from Parrott (pass failed)
W — Myles Pinkston 17 pass from Parrott (pass failed)
SJ — Harrison 1 run (pass failed)