On the Tigers’ first down, Jacob took one quick step back in the pocket and over before handing the ball off for a five-yard gain. On the next play, he fired off a lateral pass to wide receiver Matty Sheehan. Next was another run play, advancing Woodberry to within 25 yards of the end zone. On the following play, Jacob handed the ball off to running back Christian Asher, who sprinted through several defenders to the goal line.
“We put together plays that we knew we could get off quickly, and [Jacob] executed well,” said offensive coordinator Ryan Alexander, Clint’s nephew. “It worked out about as best as I could imagine.”
As Asher crossed the goal line, the crowd erupted. Jacob ran back toward the sidelines, pumping his arms, as quarterback Hunter Etheridge greeted him with a chest bump and hug. Several plays later, Clint Alexander walked over to Jacob, wiping away tears as he bear-hugged the teen for several minutes.
But Jacob didn’t play for the rest of the game. Woodberry lost, 28-19, in a bittersweet return for the quarterback.
“I wasn’t very satisfied,” Jacob said. “Being successful the first time on the field made me want to do more.”
As the season continued, those opportunities proved elusive; Etheridge — an agile junior with a strong arm who could scramble out of the pocket or run for a first down — started most games. Jacob didn’t play in the next game, which Woodberry won. The Tigers faced Paul VI Catholic High School in their third game, and Jacob threw his first touchdown pass of the season in the team’s win. He didn’t play in the next three games.
“He’s competitive and he wants to play, so I think it’s been difficult for everyone involved,” Ryan Alexander said. “He’s had to embrace a different role.”
On Oct. 20, Woodberry battled visiting Kiski School from Saltsburg, Pa. Jacob entered the game with 8:42 remaining in the third quarter and the Tigers up, 35-7. As he jogged onto the field, the spectators cheered, stomping their feet and sending a loud, vibrating rumble through the bleachers. With the ball on Kiski’s 40-yard line, Jacob stood in the pocket. After reading the defense, he switched the play and threw a tight, arching spiral to one of his receivers, who had beaten his defender on a wide right route. Touchdown.
The crowd jumped to a standing ovation, screaming, “Go, Jacob!” as the quarterback ran toward the sideline, grinning. Five minutes later, after a Kiski touchdown, Jacob came onto the field again. After three run plays, the Tigers didn’t gain another first down and punted.