The Woodbridge High School football team picked up right where it left off from last year by dropping yet another close game, this one a 21-20 home heartbreaker to Culpeper last night in the teams' season openers.
Culpeper senior quarterback Mike Jenkins found junior wide receiver Brad Cagle for a 41-yard catch and run with 2 minutes 5 seconds left in the game to give the Blue Devils the comeback win. The Vikings had led, 20-9, after scoring on a touchdown pass of their own with 8:38 to play.
In going 4-6 last season, Woodbridge lost four games by a touchdown or less. Last night's game continued that troubling habit. There was another common thread--the Vikings are still more adept at moving the ball through the air than on the ground. Senior Abey Malave-Lopez completed 11 of 25 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns while throwing one interception. The Vikings ran for 91 yards on 31 carries.
Malave-Lopez's interception came on the Vikings' final offensive play of the game. With second and 10 from his own 46, Malave-Lopez looked for senior Reginald Walker, but Culpeper senior Steven Barber, one of two defenders on Walker, picked off the pass to clinch the win. Walker had caught the pass earlier in the quarter that had given his team the 11-point lead.
Cagle was an unlikely hero. His brother, John, a senior, caught 33 balls last year while his brother mostly watched. Brad Cagle's touchdown snag last night even caught him a little by surprise, though he had told Jenkins to keep an eye out for him.
Jenkins found the younger Cagle along the right sideline. The wide receiver turned inside and then outran the Woodbridge coverage to the end zone.
"I saw him scramble, and he came back around my way," Cagle said. "Then everything just opened up all of a sudden."
The Culpeper receiver who scored the touchdown that pulled the Blue Devils to within 20-15 with 4:57 left in the game also was an unlikely target. Sophomore tight end Brandon Lambert turned a screen pass into a 30-yard scoring ramble.
Malave-Lopez also spread the ball around right from the start. The Vikings scored on their first possession of the season, with all but three yards of their 64-yard jaunt coming on penalties or passes.
Malave-Lopez completed four passes on that opening drive, including a four-yarder to senior Lamar Lane on second down for the score. But before connecting with favorite target Lane, Malave-Lopez completed passes to seniors Walker and David Wrighten to sustain the drive.
Woodbridge had a chance immediately to add to the lead. On Culpeper's first play, Malave-Lopez tipped a pass that junior Charlton McDougal hauled in--it was one of two pickoffs for him--and returned to the Blue Devil 18. The Vikings stalled, and sophomore Matt Ashton missed a 30-yard field goal.
Culpeper then had possession for not only the last 6:48 of the first quarter but also almost a minute into the second period. Junior Mike Greenaway capped the ball hogging with a 23-yard field goal.
A fumble recovery by Woodbridge senior linebacker Darryl Wilson set up the second touchdown, a 13-yard touchdown pass with 58 seconds left in the first half. Lane made a move near the end zone that befuddled the defender, leaving the receiver wide open and giving the Vikings a 13-3 lead.
With 2:21 left in the third quarter, Jenkins pulled the Blue Devils closer with a 32-yard touchdown pass to senior Terence Dinkins, who shed a tackler after the catch and sprinted for the end zone. Jenkins and Dinkins own school passing and receiving records, respectively, and their performances last night will not hurt their career totals. Jenkins completed 12 of 27 passes for 179 yards and threw two interceptions. Dinkins caught six balls for 101 yards.
CAPTION: With teammate Jason Harriott (76) down, Woodbridge's Calvin McClinton (39) runs into Jason Miller of Culpeper, which scored touchdown with 2 minutes 5 seconds left to win.
CAPTION: Senior quarterback Abey Malave-Lopez lets fly one of 25 pass attempts, completing 11 for 145 yards, three touchdowns. His one interception came on Woodbridge's final offensive play of the game and spoiled the season opener for Vikings.
CAPTION: Culpeper's Brandon Jones makes sure not to let go of football as Darryl Wilson hangs on for Woodbridge, which last season lost four games by touchdown or less.