“It was all [defensive coordinator John] Zier’s genius,” said DiPietro, who finished with two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. “It just worked. Everything fell together. Our defense really clicked.”
Down 7-3 in the third quarter, Damascus (4-1) moved into scoring range twice looking for the go-ahead score, but Eric Williams’s interception in the end zone and Monroe Sherman’s fumble recovery inside the 10-yard line ended those threats. After Fernando Smith’s 39-yard touchdown run on the second play of the fourth quarter extended Sherwood’s lead, DiPietro extinguished another red-zone trip when he snared Chase Williams’s fourth-down desperation heave toward the goal line.
Set back by turnovers, negative plays and penalties, Damascus ended up with just Eddie Cooke’s second-quarter field goal against Zier’s defense. It was the Hornets’ lowest offensive output since a 35-3 loss to Quince Orchard in 2008.
Sherwood (3-2) wasn’t much better on offense, managing just four first downs in the game. But the Warriors scored an early touchdown on a fluke play and did just enough to make the defensive effort stand up.
After DiPietro’s second-quarter sack and forced fumble gave the Warriors possession inside the Damascus 5-yard line, junior quarterback Jordan Larsen tried to pass left. A Hornets defender batted the pass down but Larsen caught it and headed right, diving past the pylon for a three-yard touchdown.
In fact, Larsen’s three-yard catch from himself made him the Warriors’ second-leading receiver in the game.
Damascus defenders “were calling [Sherwood’s offensive plays] out. That’s how well they knew them,” Sherwood Coach Mike Bonavia said. “But the key to that game wasn’t offense. It was our defense.”
Damascus Coach Eric Wallich hopes his young team — which had three wins in its first four games by seven points or less — can use the tough night as a learning experience.
“One loss isn’t the end of the world,” Wallich said. “A loss can be good. Last year we didn’t have any [regular season] losses and I almost felt like we could’ve used one to ground everybody and keep that hunger. Hopefully, this team will respond that way, and I think they will.”