On an otherwise uneventful Thursday night in front of a sparse home crowd, the host Woodson High football team pulled off a come-from-behind win in one of the most exciting games in recent Cavaliers’ football memory.
Trying to heal from the wounds of the previous week’s loss to Lake Braddock, the Cavaliers fought back from a late fourth quarter deficit to beat the visiting Lancers, 27-20, in the game played on Sept. 16.
The evening’s steady drizzle made for slick ball handling conditions and several Lee fumbles, the last of which Woodson used to set up the game’s winning score - a fabulous 55-yard catch-and-run connection from quarterback Andrew Mackay to Marcus Dash with less than a minute left in the game.
The slick conditions were evident at the outset when Lee fumbled the opening kickoff, with Woodson recovering at the Lancers’ 36-yard line. Woodson quickly returned the favor by fumbling on its opening drive to set up Lee’s first drive. Woodson’s defense initially held the Lancers after the fumble, but for the second time in two weeks, the Cavs fell victim to a fake punt which gave Lee a first down at Woodson’s 40-yard line.
Lee soon turned its good fortune into what appeared to be the game’s first score, but an apparent touchdown run was called back by a holding penalty and Lee was eventually forced to try a 37-yard field goal on fourth down.
Once again the wet conditions appeared to affect Lee, as the center’s snap slipped through the holder’s hands. Lee’s kicker recovered the ball but was quickly corralled by Woodson’s Tyler Monday to give the Cavs a first down at their 40-yard line.
Woodson then mounted a drive into Lee territory behind runs by Logan Hancock and a third down completion to Brendan Hogan. The Cavs’ drive stalled when Lee intercepted a pass, giving the Lancers possession at their 20-yard line. Woodson’s defense stopped the Lancers on the ensuing drive to force a punt and Tyler Monday’s return put the Cavs in fine position near midfield. Woodson could not move the ball, however, and punted to Lee late in the first quarter.
The second quarter produced little offense by either team until Lee’s quarterback eluded tacklers and sprinted around the right side for a 65-yard touchdown at the 8:26 mark of the half. The extra point put Lee in front 7-0 and Woodson faced a deficit that might have appeared steep given the field conditions and its lack of offense though most of the first half. The Cavs managed to get on the board later in the half, however, after they recovered another Lancer fumble. Strong running by Hancock and a completion to Marcus Dash set up Hancock’s short touchdown run with 2:03 to go in the half. The extra point try sailed wide right and the Cavs trailed 7 – 6 at the half.
<b>WOODSON’S DEFENSE</b> continued its strong play in the third quarter. The Cavs defensive line denied Lee yardage up the middle, forcing the Lancers to look for yardage off the edges. For most of the night Woodson’s defense contained Lee’s speedy quarterback, including mid-way through the third period when Todd Mueller and Hancock combined on a sack to force a Lee punt. Woodson’s following drive stalled and it punted to Lee, setting up the Lancer’s next score. After the punt the Cavs appeared to have held Lee, but on third down Lee’s quarterback eluded tacklers in the backfield and sprinted downfield before being tackled at Woodson’s 25-yard line. The play ended the third quarter, but Lee wasted no time in the next period, scoring on the first play of the fourth on Donavan Taylor’s 25-yard touchdown run. Lee’s extra point try was interrupted by a bad snap, but the Lancers held a 13-6 lead.
Woodson responded with a fine scoring drive keyed by Mackay’s long completion to receiver Michael Yaglou, taking the ball to Lee’s one yard line. The Cavs’ scoring opportunity looked to be fading away when, on fourth-and-four, Mackay found tight end Michael Reaves open in the end zone for a touchdown with 6:59 left in the game. Jacob Luftglass then converted the key extra point to tie the score at 13-13.
Woodson’s celebration was short-lived. Following the kickoff, on first down from its own 35-yard line, Lee reprised its scoring tactic when Taylor once again eluded a tackle in the backfield and sprinted around the right end, this time on a 70-yard touchdown run. The extra point put the Lancers in the lead 20-13 with 6:22 left in the game.
Following the kickoff Woodson soon faced a third-and-ten from near its own 35-yard line. Woodson’s passing game once again answered the call. This time, Mackay hit a sprinting Hogan in stride. He outran the defenders into the end zone for the score. After Luftglass converted the extra point, Woodson and Lee were tied 20-20 late in the final quarter.
Then, with time running down, Woodson recovered a Lancer fumble in Cavs’ territory, giving them a chance to move into the lead for the first time. With less than a minute to go and many fans probably thinking about the game moving into overtime, Mackay looked for Dash in the right flat. Dash hauled in the pass, followed good downfield blocking, and eluded Lee tacklers before plunging into the end zone with the winning touchdown.
After the score Woodson’s defense stifled a final Lancer drive as time ran out. The inspired rain-soaked win moved the Cavaliers’ record to 2-1. Next up, the Cavs face the Chantilly Chargers in Chantilly this Friday night. A game anything like the Lee game will be well worth the short trip west on Route 50.