Woodbridge upends No. 15 Stonewall Jackson to wrap up playoff berth
By Preston Williams,
Woodbridge had not beaten a team with a winning record in two years and missed out on the playoffs last year for the first time in eight seasons. The Vikings had lost two tight games in demoralizing fashion the past two weeks.
No. 15 Stonewall Jackson, meantime, had scored at least 28 points in each game and was aiming for the first unbeaten and untied regular season in school history.
So what happens Friday night at Woodbridge? The Vikings knock off Stonewall, 17-7, to surge into the Virginia AAA Northwest Region Division 6 playoffs by limiting the Raiders to one first down in the second half, squelching Stonewall’s bid to do something no Raiders football team had done since the school opened 40 years ago.
Woodbridge (6-4) took a 14-0 lead in the first half on a 13-yard run by senior Jaylen Avent and a short pass that senior Logan Farrar fashioned into a 65-yard touchdown, and the Vikings chewed the last 8 minutes 22 seconds off the clock by grinding out four first downs to deny Stonewall (9-1) even a shot at a comeback.
“I’m pretty speechless,” Woodbridge Coach Kevin Smith said as well-wishers approached him with outstretched arms. “Not having two days to prepare for a team of this caliber [because of the storm that canceled school Monday and Tuesday] with this kind of firepower? We just wanted to control the clock, play field position with them and make them have to drive the field.”
Woodbridge limited the Raiders’ primary playmaker, junior quarterback Greg Stroman, to minus-14 yards on 13 carries, including sack yardage. The most significant stop came early in the fourth quarter when Woodbridge All-Met junior lineman Da’Shawn Hand chased Stroman and dragged him down on fourth and one at midfield.
Stonewall never got the ball back.
“You’ve got to keep [Stroman] in the pocket,” Smith said. “You’ve got to make him one-dimensional. Any time he gets outside, it’s going to be tough.”
Woodbridge recovered a fumble at the Stonewall 25-yard line late in the third quarter. That enabled the Vikings to pad their 14-7 halftime lead when left-footed senior Jose Hernandez, the team’s third place kicker of the season, made a 21-yard field goal three plays into the fourth quarter.
Woodbridge, which grinded out 173 rushing yards on 44 carries, took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Senior Evrett Edwards bobbled and then intercepted a pass on the Vikings’ sideline and his short return gave his team possession at the Stonewall 29-yard line. Avent popped through for seven yards on fourth and one to sustain the drive and then on the next play broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage on a 13-yard run to the end zone.
Pinned at their 7-yard line early in the second period, Farrar gained 20 yards on a run and two plays later took a short pass 65 yards for a touchdown to give Woodbridge a 14-0 lead.
Stonewall was held scoreless in the first quarter for just the second time this season, and the Raiders needed 10 plays to mount a 44-yard touchdown drive in the second period. Stroman weaved his way for a five-yard touchdown with 1:32 left in the first half.
“It feels good after the last couple of weeks to get some hugs,” Smith said with a laugh. “I’m very happy for these seniors. After last year, not being able to get in [with a 6-4 record], they deserve this.”