Both teams brought a playoff mentality and had moments where they appeared to gain momentum — ultimately with the Crimson Flashes pulling away from Vermilion in 26-14 home win.
Willard (1-9, 1-4) received the opening kickoff and strung together a picture perfect, 9-play 48-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard Cooper Parrott touchdown run. Parrott had a hand on all four Willard scores.
Parrott followed the run up by connecting with Jon Rothhaar in the corner of the end zone for an 8-0 lead.
Willard's defense seemed to feed off the offense and forced the Sailors backwards in a quick three and out that netted -2 yards.
The Flashes again drove straight down the field and this time scored on a pretty toss and run from Parrott to Trey Paxton for a 46-yard touchdown — this time the two-point conversion failed, but the fans were still worked into a frenzy as they could smell themselves being on the right side of the running clock.
Vermilion struggled again on their second drive — this time netting minus 14 yards.
The Sailors never gave up though — coming up with a huge interception on a triple-reverse bomb by Parrott that hung up in the air and was picked off to change momentum as Vermilion took control scoring on a 3-yard scamper from Justin Wagner on the ensuing drive.
Vermilion managed to hold the momentum through the third quarter as they turned the Flashes pver on three straight drives and drew even at 14 thanks to a Tyler Shook sneak from a yard out.
The Flashes reached deep in the fourth quarter and dominated thanks to a pair of Casey Sallee interceptions and two more scoring runs by Parrott (6,2).
It was a huge win for Willard who had a tough season from the start.
"I told the guys that this was the first time that I can honestly say they played for each other as a team," Willard coach Kade Long said. "This was a tough win where we faced adversity and we were able to dig in and get the win."
It marked the first win as a coach for Long.
"I have been coaching for a long time as an assistant over the years, but it feels great to get that first win," Long said. "I told the guys to make sure that they donthe right things and work hard to get better and don't let this seasons struggles be for nothing."
Cooper Parrott finished the game 16-of-24 passing with 188 yards and a touchdown to go along with his three running scores.
"I can't thank Cooper and all of the seniors enough," coach Long said. "These guys refused to quit and they are welcome to come back in my program anytime."
Dario Lopez added 111 yards on 16 carries on the ground for Willard.
Trey Paxton caught seven passes for 91 yards and the TD, while Hayden Meisner caught three passes for 30 yards.
Vermilion (0-10, 0-5) was led Justin Wagner with 105 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Vermilion 0 7 7 0 — 14
Willard 14 0 0 12 — 26
W — Cooper Parrott 13 run (Jon Rothaar from Parrott)
W — Trey Paxton 46 pass from Parrott (pass fail)
V — Justin Wagner 3 run (Riley Baxter kick)
V — Tyler Shook 1 run (Baxter kick)
W — Parrott 6 run (pass fail)
W — Parrott 2 run (pass fail)