Madison Coach Lenny Schultz admits that he was a bit worried for his team with less than two minutes left in its game against Langley on Friday night. The Warhawks were up by three points, but were on their heels with the Saxons threatening at the Madison 10-yard line.
“Who doesn’t worry in that situation?” Schultz said with a laugh. “But I do know I was a lot more worried than my guys on the field.”
Those guys, a Madison defensive unit that had forced seven turnovers during the last two weeks, showed their mettle once again, stuffing the Saxons to force a last-gasp 34-yard field goal that sailed wide left and sealed a 24-21 win in McLean. Madison (4-1) has now won four straight games and is 2-0 in the Virginia AAA Liberty District.
The Warhawks’ defense tallied a safety and three turnovers on Friday night, including an interception returned for a touchdown. Those eight points proved critical on a night when Madison’s offense sputtered and Langley’s attack thrived behind tailback Philip Mun.
“We have mostly seniors on defense, so we’re confident in each other and we knew if we gave our best effort, we could stop them when we needed to,” said Madison senior Ben Sanford, who scored on that first-half pick and also had a 15-yard touchdown catch. “Even when we’re down on the scoreboard, we don’t get down. We just keep plugging away.”
Indeed, Madison found itself down early, as Mun gave the Warhawks fits with 224 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Much of that yardage came on Langley’s opening drive, when the Saxons marched 80 yards in four plays to go up 7-0 on a Mun 11-yard run.
It appeared Langley (3-2, 2-1) would have the same success on its next series, driving down to Madison’s 6-yard line. But the Warhawks’ defense stopped the Saxons on fourth down and converted a safety the next time out to put Madison on the board.
Mun found his way into the end zone again midway through the second quarter, but the Warhawks defense rallied back on what would be a major turning point.
With Langley in the red zone, Sanford picked off a pass and ran 83 yards down the left sideline for the score, putting Madison up 16-14.
Just after Grant Hofmann punched in the decisive touchdown from three yards to give Madison a 24-21 lead in the fourth, Sanford snagged his second interception on another fourth down to keep the Saxons at bay and set up Madison’s successful last stand.
“On nights when we can’t get scores from our offense consistently, those plays like the safety and interception return are big,” Schultz said. “It’s like another dose of offense and helps us have that much more faith in each other.”
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