When West Potomac scored to take a 19-0 lead with 9 seconds remaining in the first quarter, it would have been easy for Woodson quarterback Andrew Mackay to panic. A sophomore in his first season as a varsity starter, it was now up to Mackay to pass the Cavaliers back into the Oct. 8 contest. Facing a Wolverines defense that had allowed just two touchdowns in two Patriot District games, the task appeared daunting.
How did the young signal caller respond? Try an 80-yard touchdown pass on Woodson’s next play from scrimmage.
The Cavaliers would pull to within five during the second quarter, but the Wolverines proved too much, winning their homecoming game 50-36. The loss dropped Woodson to 2-4, but Mackay’s effort showed the Cavaliers’ offense has a bright future.
Mackey made a few youthful mistakes. He threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles. He completed only 16 of 40 attempts. But he also amassed 382 yards through the air, threw for three touchdowns and completed a pass for a two-point conversion.
"He made his share of mistakes, but he’s a sophomore and he’s learning and he’s getting better," Woodson head coach Trey Taylor said. "You see him, he’s making clutch throws, he’s making good decisions. He makes some bad decisions, but every game, if he’s making more good than bad decisions, we’re making headway.
"What I’ve told him is: ‘This year, it’s going to be fast and it’s going to be confusing and it’s going to be frustrating. Next year, it’s going to be a little bit slower. By the time you’re a senior, it’s going to be like slow motion for you.’ We’re working toward the future with him."
Mackay threw touchdown passes of 80 and 50 yards to Paul Fridley and 25 yards to Jon Stokes.
Woodson "kept plugging," West Potomac head coach Eric Henderson said. "They found some things in the throw game that gave us some fits and they just kept playing hard. Thank God we were able to put 50 up, because we didn’t feel like we had defensive control there at any time."
Trying to overcome a 19-point deficit against West Potomac wasn’t the first time this season Mackay faced pressure. Entering the 2010 campaign, No. 14 knew he would be trying to fill the shoes of former standout Connor Reilly, a two-year starter who led the Cavaliers to 11 wins and a berth in the regional final as a senior. Reilly accepted a scholarship to play quarterback at Temple University.
"I think he’s put a lot of pressure on himself to be Connor," Taylor said. "I’ve tried to tell him, ‘I don’t need you to be Connor, I need you to be you.’ We try to limit what he has to do and then you get into a game like this where you get behind and we’re forced to make him do stuff, but he responds pretty well for being a 15 year old."
Mackay had some help against West Potomac. Running back Stokes rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns and caught five passes for 122 yards and another score. Receiver Fridley caught four passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
The Cavaliers showed flashes of brilliance, but turning the ball over six times and allowing West Potomac nine plays of at least 20 yards was too much to overcome. Taylor said it’s frustrating that the Cavaliers are making mental mistakes and getting beat by big plays, adding Westfield was the only opponent this season that physically dominated Woodson. The Cavaliers’ next chance to show improvement will be a home game against T.C. Williams on Friday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m.
"I don’t even know how many turnovers we had, how many big plays that we gave up and that’s what we try and do, limit our turnovers and prevent the big play and we did neither of those," Taylor said. "That being said, the score was much closer than I would expect it to be for playing like we did. But until we eliminate mistakes, we’re going to lose football games."