W.T. Woodson 36,
W.T. Woodson delivered another dominant rushing performance last night, powering to a 36-19 win over visiting Madison in Fairfax that helped the Cavaliers rebound from their only loss of the season.
Running back Matt Nickerson gained a career-high 250 yards and scored three touchdowns, and quarterback Chris Collins rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown and threw another as the Cavaliers outlasted the Warhawks in a game delayed 50 minutes by lightning.
Woodson (5-1, 2-1 Liberty District) was coming off a 20-16 loss to Lee and wanted to quickly re-establish its running attack, which features Nickerson, a senior who entered the game averaging 158 yards per game with 14 touchdowns. They succeeded, gaining a total of 446 yards on the ground.
The Cavaliers, who have won five of the past seven meetings in what has traditionally been a competitive rivalry, marched 68 yards on 13 running plays on their first possession. Nickerson, who carried seven times for 51 yards on the drive, gave his team the lead with a one-yard plunge. Collins, the holder on the extra point attempt, threw to Nick Olivero for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Nickerson finished the half with 158 yards on 15 carries.
"We knew Madison had a powerful offense so we wanted to keep them off the field," Collins said. "We wanted to control the ball. When you've got backs like Matt and [Olivero], it's hard to slow us down."
The Warhawks, who gained only four first downs in the first half, got back in the game on their first drive of the second half. Junior running back Justin Duncan sped 37 yards around the right end for a touchdown. But the team's two-point try failed when Collins stopped Anderson, who sprinted right trying to reach the pylon, leaving it at 8-6.
That was the first of six touchdowns scored in the third quarter, but Madison (4-2, 2-1) was never closer as its two lost fumbles in the quarter resulted in touchdowns.
Madison running back Joe Canova made it 29-19 when he scored on a nine-yard run late in the quarter. Nickerson capped the scoring with a four-yard run with 5:15 left in the game.
"The rain and the storms sort of took us out of focus before the game," said Collins, whose 2003 season was cut short when he injured his ankle in a 14-12 loss at Madison. "But once we got going, we got in a zone and played better."
Madison's first possession started strong but ended up just short. A 33-yard reception by tight end Josh Zimmerman from Anderson helped the Warhawks move 43 yards on four plays and gain a first and goal at the 9.
Three rushes later they were still stuck at the 4. Going for it on fourth down, Anderson ran an option to the left, but was stopped at the 3 by junior defensive back Jeff Beyer, playing his first game of the season.
Beyer, who filled in at quarterback for the injured Collins (ankle) for much of last season, did not come out for the team at the season's start. Two weeks ago, he changed his mind and last night he was eligible to play for the first time after the mandatory two weeks of practice.