South Lakes running back Ja’Juan Jones is not one to dampen parties. But, as far as Madison High faithful are concerned, Jones was a bit of a killjoy last Saturday afternoon. That’s because the junior scored three touchdowns, including a game-breaker run in the fourth quarter, to lift the Seahawks to a 21-14 win, spoiling a day in which the home team Warhawks were celebrating both their homecoming and the school’s 50th year anniversary.
“I’m really happy for the kids,” said South Lakes coach John Ellenberger, whose team improved to 5-1 in what has been a breakthrough season for the Seahawks. “That’s the best defense we’ve faced.”
Madison, playing in front of a festive crowd of returning alumni and Vienna town faithful, saw its record slip to 3-3.
The Warhawks, who trailed 14-0 at halftime, stormed back with a pair of third quarter touchdowns, including a special teams’ score in which Madison’s Joe Corrigan recovered the ball in the end zone following a punt block by teammate Kevin Sampson with four minutes, 54 seconds remaining in the quarter. James Devens’ successful point-after kick tied the score at 14.
Several minutes later, Madison looked as if was about to take the lead. But a 28-yard, screen pass play from quarterback Eric Roland to Tyler Wilkinsen down to the South Lakes one yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter was negated because of off-setting penalties. The play turned out to be critical as Madison was not able to score on the drive.
South Lakes quickly regained the momentum on its next possession when, on a third-and-one play from its own 40 yard line, Jones, who had scored a pair of first half touchdowns on runs of three and five yards, broke through the line of scrimmage and into the open field for a 60-yard touchdown run. Erich Belt’s third extra point kick of the afternoon made the score 21-14 Seahawks with 9:46 left to play.
South Lakes guard Dan Fowler made a key block on the running burst off the left side that resulted in the six points.
“Dan made a heck of a block and it was wide open,” said Jones. “Our [offensive] line is strong and tough and they wanted to win.”
Ellenberger said his team had been reeling a bit following Madison’s two third quarter touchdowns.
“The kids were down and the coaching staff was like, `I can’t believe [Madison] blocked a punt and scored,’” said the coach.
But Jones’ breakaway touchdown run put the momentum back into South Lakes’ hands and was a huge relief to a Seahawks’ team that looked as if the game might have been getting away from it.
“Jones’ touchdown was such a relief,” said Ellenberger. “He broke it and there is no better feeling in the world than seeing him run in open field.”
Jones finished the game with 107 yards on 16 carries and the three scores.
Ellenberger credited the Madison defense with playing solid run defense throughout much of the game.
“Madison was good on defense,” said the coach. “They swarmed the ball and they were getting after us.”
Madison, trailing 21-14, threatened to score later in the final quarter when it moved the ball to the South Lakes 30. But on a third-and-seven play, South Lakes junior defensive back Sean Price broke up a long pass play.
Then, on fourth down, another incompletion ended the Warhawks’ threat. South Lakes then ran out the final one minute and 38 seconds.
South Lakes quarterback Shawn Rana played a good game, completing eight of 10 passes for 129 yards. Price, a wide receiver on offense, caught three passes for 57 yards, and senior wideout Antonio Jenkins caught three balls for 31 yards. Running back Darius Smith, who returned a fourth quarter punt 21 yards, rushed for 48 yards on 10 carries to compliment Jones’ big game.
Neither team turned the ball over in the game, although the game was far from perfect with both teams getting called for numerous penalties (Madison five for 50 yards, South Lakes nine for 80).
Madison’s top ball carrier was Tavin Thomas (68 yards on 18 carries). His one yard scoring run capped Madison’s 58-yard, 10-play scoring drive to begin the second half.
Defensively, tackle Charlie Pence had two sacks for the Warhawks. Meanwhile, for South Lakes, lineman Alex Stanley had a sack.
Madison plays at unbeaten Stone Bridge this Friday night. South Lakes, meanwhile, will play Fairfax at home.