They made sure John Noah didn’t get away.
The Josey players followed the coach around, getting him soaked with whatever they had – even if it was only with a water bottle.
The Eagles celebrated a victory in Noah’s last game, getting a 14-7 win over Westside on Friday night.
“They wanted to win on homecoming, and I think that maybe it was also for me a little bit,” said Noah, who was carried off the field.
The Patriots committed five turnovers in the loss, but are going to the Class AA state playoffs anyway.
Josey ended an eight-game losing streak and closed the season the same way it started it: with a win. The Eagles (2-8 overall, 1-5 Region 3-AA) got a big night from Parrish Jones, who had 100 rushing yards, and were opportunistic on defense.
Westside moved the ball on pass plays from quarterback Quinton Phillips, but it seemed whenever it threatened to score, something bad happened.
On two drives in the second half, the Patriots crossed the Josey 25, only to lose possession.
First, a big completion ended with a fumble early in the third quarter.
Later, on a fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter, Westside completed a pass but fumbled on the Josey 2. The Eagles recovered in the end zone.
The Patriots (5-5, 2-4) are going to the playoffs thanks to Screven County’s win against Dublin.
Westside and Dublin have the same region record, but the Patriots won the tiebreaker by virtue of a head-to-head victory.
Josey, which usually struggles on offense, was clutch on fourth down early on. Kejuan Turner came down with a toss for a touchdown for the game’s first score.
After Josey made another stop on its side of the field, the Eagles offense struck again.
Jones got a 16-yard reception on a screen pass and a 32-yard burst thanks to a perfect cut. Backfield mate Broderick Ross later powered through the heart of the Westside front for a 2-yard score on fourth down.
The first half was mostly a nightmare for Westside – at least until the last few seconds.
After several drives reached Josey territory, the Patriots finally came through.
Phillips led the drive to the Josey 10 with 9.2 seconds left in the half. He found a receiver just shy of the goal line when a personal foul call on Josey gave the Patriots an untimed play.
Phillips delivered with a short run, but the Patriots didn’t score again.
“It’s very disappointing,” Westside coach Steve Hibbitts said. “But I told them, “Now you get a second chance.’ ”