H.D. Woodson's football team started on its way to yesterday's 26-6 victory over Wilson at halftime, when junior running back Dujuan Stover sought out Coach Greg Fuller and made a simple request: Give me the ball.
Fuller, who had called for Stover to run three times in the first half, obliged, and on Woodson's first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Stover turned a routine dive into a scintillating, tackle-breaking 54-yard touchdown run.
It broke a scoreless tie and sparked the Warriors to victory in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association semifinal at Ballou in Southeast. The 12th-ranked Warriors (9-1), who have won nine straight, advanced to Thursday's Turkey Bowl against four-time defending champion Dunbar. The fifth-ranked Crimson Tide (10-1) eliminated Ballou, 22-0.
"Dujuan came over to me at halftime and said, 'I want some of that action, too,' " Fuller said. The touchdown "was just a basic lead play, and Dujuan did it all on his own."
H.D. Woodson forced a punt after three plays on Wilson's first possession of the second half. On first down from the Warriors 46-yard line, Stover took a handoff from quarterback Derric Daniels and ran into two defenders in the middle of the line. Stover spun away from the defenders, then spun away from another and broke to the right sideline. He turned the corner, cut back and then raced to the end zone.
"I just knew we needed it," Stover said. "Somebody had to step up and set the tone."
From there, the Warriors continued to use their rushing attack to wear down the Tigers (7-4). After gaining only 41 yards on 17 carries in the first half, Woodson churned out 232 yards on 24 carries after the break. Stover finished with 92 yards and a score on eight carries; powerful senior Richard Fitzhugh had a game-high 113 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries and Daniels chipped in 53 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.
"The line started blocking well after I said some choice words to them at halftime," Fuller said.
Three plays after Stover's touchdown, a host of Warriors sacked Wilson quarterback Deloren Young and forced a fumble that Woodson's Darnell Moore recovered. Fitzhugh started Woodson's second drive by pounding off tackle for 18 yards to the Wilson 33. Daniels then faked a handoff to Fitzhugh and bootlegged left. The senior quarterback picked up a key downfield block from Paul Kellum and went 33 yards for a score.
Daniels scored the Warriors' third touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter on another bootleg, this time going right for 18 yards with help from Joshua Slaughter's downfield block. Both plays depended upon decisions by Daniels to run instead of handing off to a back.
"Derric picked those up really well," Fuller said. "He made his own call from the end pinching down."
The second bootleg score capped a nine-play, 76-yard drive and gave the Warriors a 20-0 lead. The drive came immediately after a key stop by the Woodson defense.
A fumbled punt gave Wilson the ball at the Woodson 3 late in the third quarter, but a 15-yard penalty and a sack by William Walls stymied the Tigers.