H.D. Woodson topples Ballou, 30-26, in the 2009 Turkey Bowl

Clutch defensive stops secured H.D. Woodson's 30-26 win over Ballou for its second straight Turkey Bowl win.
By Alan Goldenbach
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 27, 2009

Fittingly, food would be the key for H.D. Woodson if the Warriors were going to beat Ballou in the Turkey Bowl. The remedy, however, for Woodson quarterback Ricardo Young's stubborn leg cramps wasn't going to be found on too many Thanksgiving tables.

Team trainer Jennifer Rheeling "made me eat mustard," Young said. "She said it would make the cramps go away. I don't know. Whatever it takes to stay on the field, I was ready to do it."

During the third quarter, Woodson's staff grabbed mustard packets from the concession stand, emptied them onto a plate, and the Virginia Tech recruit slurped it down on the sideline. Then he went out and threw two second-half touchdown passes, the latter a 10-yarder to Alonzo Russell midway through the fourth quarter, to give Woodson a 30-26 victory over Ballou for its second straight D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association championship before an estimated 5,000 at Eastern.

In a game that lasted nearly 3 1/2 hours and had five lead changes and 30 combined penalties, Woodson stopped Ballou three times inside the 2-yard line in the final minute to secure the victory. It was the first time Woodson (9-4) has claimed consecutive championships since 1994, and its 10th league title is the most of any school.

"It means a lot, considering what we've gone through the last two years," said Woodson Coach Greg Fuller, whose team has practiced on a softball field at the Fletcher-Johnson complex on Benning Road SE, where Woodson relocated while its new building is being constructed.

After a sluggish start, the pace of the game picked up dramatically in the second half, which began with the Warriors ahead, 14-8, following a 24-yard touchdown pass from Young to Renito Porter two minutes before halftime. Ballou (9-2) stopped Woodson on fourth and one at the Knights 45 to end the first drive of the second half. The game's next four possessions each ended with touchdowns.

Ballou's Eric Shaw ran for the second of his three scores on a 10-yard play midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Delonte Edwards ran in the two-point conversion to put Ballou up, 16-14.

Young, who plans to graduate early and enroll at Virginia Tech in January, led the Warriors right back in eight plays, capped by a 17-yard fade to Russell for a touchdown. Young ran in the conversion and Woodson was back up, 22-16.

Edwards threw for three first downs on the next drive before Shaw scored on a one-yard run 53 seconds into the fourth quarter. Edwards hit Larry Pinkard for the conversion, and Ballou was ahead, 24-22.

Young was terrific on the next drive. He completed all five of his passes and ran 11 yards for a first down. On third and goal at the 10, he threw a corner route to Russell on the right side for the clinching score. Young's pass to Porter on the conversion made it 30-24 with 6 minutes 14 seconds left.

Ballou didn't flinch. Spurred by two of Woodson's 20 penalties, the Knights drove downfield as Edwards hit Daray Crawford on consecutive plays of 19 and 22 yards. On third and four at the Woodson 7, Shaw ran for two yards and fumbled, but lineman Jamar Lewter recovered it at the 2 for a first down.

Edwards gained one yard and was stopped on the next two plays. A delay of game penalty gave the Knights fourth and goal at the 6 with less than two minutes left. Edwards rolled to his left, and Woodson defensive end Donnell Ceasar, reading it the whole way, batted down the pass.

"All season, coaches said, 'Get your hands up, get your hands up,' " Ceasar said, "and in the big game, I got my hands up."

Woodson gained possession, took a safety with 17 seconds left and kicked to Ballou. The Knights had one final play from the Warriors' 30 but could not convert.

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