Oakton 24, Madison 0
The second-half drama that had come to define the Oakton-Madison rivalry the past three years failed to materialize last night, much to the disappointment of the Warhawks' supporters among the standing room-only crowd at Madison.
Instead, thanks to Oakton running back Keith Payne, quarterback Reid Teschner, do-it-all Cody Grimm and a stellar performance by the defense, the Cougars claimed a 24-0 rout in the Virginia AAA nondistrict season opener for both teams.
Payne, a smooth and powerful 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior, gained a game-high 126 yards on 13 carries. Teschner rushed for a score and tossed another to Grimm while Oakton's defense, behind Grimm and linemen Jeremy Rudolph and Jared Ruppert, limited the Warhawks to 152 yards of total offense.
"We were a little nervous at first, but once we got going we wanted to shut them down," Payne said. "The most important part of this game was the way we came out at the start of the second half."
Indeed, Oakton broke open a close game in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Teschner capped a 57-yard, seven play drive with a two-yard run that put the Cougars ahead 10-0. Then, after the Oakton's defense forced a three-and-out, senior Patrick Purcell returned a punt 50 yards to stake the Cougars to a 17-0 lead.
"We got off to a slow start, but once we calmed down we were okay," Oakton Coach Joe Thompson said. "We were so uptight in the first half. That changed after that first drive of the second half. It gave our offense the confidence it needed."
Separated by less than two miles in Vienna, the schools share more than just the same area code. They also share an intense rivalry, attributable in part to the close proximity, but mostly because they have been among the area's most successful teams. Madison is the defending Division 5 region champion and has made the playoffs three consecutive years; Oakton, two years removed from winning the Division 6 region title, has made the playoffs two of the past three seasons.
The previous three games were decided by a total of nine points, with the winning team using a fourth-quarter comeback to pull off a dramatic win. Oakton had won six of the previous seven meetings entering last night.
In the first half, Oakton place kicker Donald Murphy capped his team's opening drive with a 37-yard field, which put the Cougars ahead 3-0. Oakton's offense, however, was unable to muster much else against junior tackle Jake Thomas and the rest of Madison's defense.
While Madison's defense was strong, the Warhawks' offense didn't get much going until their final drive of the half -- Madison's initial first down came with 2 minutes 35 seconds remaining. Then a missed field goal sent them into halftime trailing 3-0.
"This win was huge," Teschner said. "This year we've got the talent, and we've got a bunch of smart football players. This is going to set the tone for the whole season."