Editor's note: This story is featured in the Daily Citizen-News' weekly high school football Touchdown! section. Grab an issue in papers on Fridays during football season, or stop by our office for a copy.
At the end of Southeast Whitfield High School quarterback Adam Sowder's 13-second scramble, after he heaved the football toward the end zone as the game clock expired, he never expected the pass to land in a receiver's hands for a touchdown.
Nor did Sowder know his throw would propel him into the school's record book.
The 30-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Hill was the last play of a 34-31 road loss to Coahulla Creek on Sept. 6. Despite the loss, those 30 yards allowed Sowder to set the school's single-game passing record of 385 yards. And he needed every one of those yards, as he slipped by Levi Sams' previous single-game record of 384 yards.
"It was awesome," said Sowder, a senior who was 20-for-41 with four touchdown passes on the evening. "Obviously, I didn't expect to do that well, and I'm really happy as a team that we were able to perform that well. We just kept finding holes in the defense and seeing plays that we could run. We were lucky that they kept working."
As the game wore on, Sowder had no idea he was even close to breaking Sams' record. Sams, a former Southeast assistant coach, is now an assistant at Northwest Whitfield. Sowder was concerned with winning the game, "because that's what it's all about," he said.
After the game was over, someone told Sowder he had thrown for 385 yards.
"I thought 'Wow, that's a lot,'" Sowder said. "I didn't know until the next morning when coach (Sean) Gray texted me and told me I got the record. I was kind of in shock at first. The record was nowhere in my mind, whether I was close or if it was even feasible."
Of all the completions on that historic evening, Sowder has two favorites. One was a 72-yard touchdown pass to receiver Colter Long where the defensive back jumped and the ball cleared his hands by about 2 inches, Sowder said. The other pass that stands out in his mind was the aforementioned record-breaker. Sowder took the snap from the shotgun formation, saw pressure and rolled to his left. As five Coahulla Creek defenders pursued him, Sowder reversed field where he was picked up by a sixth defender. After a running start of about 10 yards down the sideline, Sowder let the ball fly. It met the hands of Hill, who has standing almost on the back line of the end zone under the goal post. Hill dragged his feet, then fell out of bounds for the touchdown.
Gray pointed to Sowder, who is in his second season as the starting quarterback, as one of the team leaders.
"He's a very smart kid, he's a great athlete, and he's got all kinds of potential," Gray said. "I was glad to see him have the game that he had against Coahulla Creek. He threw the ball very well. He has great scrambling ability as you saw in some of those highlights."
The Raiders (0-4) are off to a slow start this season, but Gray is stressing that the second season begins tonight as region play starts. Southeast hosts LaFayette (2-2).