Some enterprising North Stafford High School math student should keep two statistics for the football team this season: yards gained on scoring drives and yards gained on drives that should be scoring drives.
The No. 17 Wolverines had a lot more of the latter than the former last night in a 35-0 home win over Virginia AA school Liberty, but they still managed to notch their first victory in the series after losses to the Eagles the past three years.
In the first two quarters alone, North Stafford outgained Liberty by 175 yards but clung to just a 7-0 lead at halftime, in part because of two fumbles and 50 yards worth of penalties. It took a 53-yard punt return by Paris Edwards less than two minutes into the second half to trigger a 28-point third quarter onslaught.
The night in a nutshell: North Stafford quarterback Chris Ashinhurst hits Edwards on a short pass that Edwards fashions into a 34-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. A clipping penalty nullifies the score.
On the very next play, Ashinhurst hits Edwards on a short pass, this one on the right side, and Edwards races in for a 46-yard touchdown.
The first half was even more confounding.
"We definitely didn't have our 'A' game out in the first half," said Ashinhurst, who completed 19 of 35 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown out of the Wolverines' no-huddle offense. "We let them stay close, and that's something we can't do. I don't know if we were still on a high after the win last week [44-6 over Stonewall] or what. We're only human, so it happens."
Oh, the Wolverines were human all right. Here's the breakdown on the first-half breakdowns:
* Fumbled on first and goal at the Liberty two-yard line.
* Turned the ball over on downs after taking possession at the Liberty 15.
* Punted after taking possession at the Liberty 40.
* Fumbled on first and goal at the Liberty 3.
* Missed a 42-yard field goal after taking possession at the Liberty 25.
Ashinhurst, whose numbers could have been even gaudier if not for several dropped passes, added to the frustration in the second half by throwing an interception at the goal line on a drive that reached the Liberty two-yard line before a sack and the pickoff.
Edwards was responsible for a drop or two, but he more than made up for it with the punt return and touchdown reception in the third quarter. Not bad for a guy who moved into the area last year from a place known worldwide for its baseball--Williamsport, Pa., home of the Little League World Series.
"He makes you hold your breath," North Stafford Coach Chris Beatty said.
That could be said for pretty much the entire offense. Even with all the squandered opportunities, the Wolverines are still so loaded offensively--in addition to the passing, Allen Woodbridge rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns--they overshadow a defense whose starting unit has not allowed a touchdown this season. In fact, the defense has outscored opposing offenses, thanks to a 75-yard interception return last night by Jerome Rogers that gave North Stafford a 28-0 lead. Rogers earlier had recovered a fumble to halt a seven-minute Liberty possession.
"I'd rather be blowing people out than playing close games," Beatty said. "But everyone can see we have things we have to do better."