Stonewall Jackson 44,
The otherworldly fog that blanketed the Stonewall Jackson football stadium last night provided a fitting backdrop for a team living a dream season, with no intention of waking up any time soon.
Down by two touchdowns midway through the second quarter, Stonewall surged back for a 44-23 win over George Washington-Danville in the Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 semifinals thanks to an offense that racked up 458 yards and special teams play that recovered two pooch kicks in the second half that led to two touchdowns.
Senior Chris Garrett rushed for 168 yards and two scores, and freshman Ryan Williams continued his head-turning debut season. He scored on a 35-yard catch-and-run on the last play of the first half and turned in a punishing 30-yard scoring jaunt in the third quarter that left three befuddled defenders in his wake.
Stonewall (9-2), in the playoffs for the first time since 1996, advances to the region championship next week to face either Woodbridge or Hylton, teams that meet at 1 p.m. today in the other semifinal. Second-year coach Loren Johnson's team went 2-8 last year.
"It's crazy," Stonewall senior tight end-defensive end Chris Lancaster said. "I was on the 0-10 team [two years ago], I was on the 2-8 team. For him to come and do this for us is really amazing."
GW-Danville junior Haylen Murphy rushed for two early touchdowns for a 13-0 lead, but Stonewall surged ahead 14-13 at the end of the half. The Raiders coughed up a fumble on the first play of the third period that led to a GW-Danville field goal. That was the last time the Eagles would possess the ball that period. The Raiders took the lead on a touchdown and two-point conversion and recovered two high, short kickoffs that led to scores.
"It killed us," Eagles Coach Dan Newell said. "You can't win football games if you don't have the ball."
By the time the GW-Danville offense got on the field again, early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles trailed 37-16. Senior quarterback Cameron Martin, bound for Virginia Tech as a defensive back, aggravated a leg injury in the first half and was largely ineffective thereafter.