Seniors Lindell Stone and Terrell Jana connected for two touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the third quarter to break open a tight game, and Woodberry’s defense clamped down throughout the second half as the Tigers opened Prep League play with a 35-16 win over Collegiate.
After three first-half turnovers allowed the Cougars to hang close, Woodberry had a come-to-Jesus huddle at the break.
“We had left probably 10 points on the field and given them 13,” said Woodberry coach Clint Alexander. “We turned the ball over on the 10 and gave them a score. Then we fumbled a punt and gave them a 40-yard gain. We dropped a touchdown in the end zone, then missed a field goal. I kind of talked to them about that and how that can’t happen anymore, or we would lose this game.”
Both sides of the ball looked sharp once the third quarter kicked off. The Tiger defense allowed just 57 yards for the second half until a garbage time drive at the end. Stone completed his first six pass attempts for 139 yards, including two touchdowns to Jana, and no one put the ball on the turf as had happened twice in the first half.
“The boys responded,” Alexander said. “Defense pretty much dominated the second half, and special teams cleaned everything up.”
Trailing just 21-16, Collegiate got the ball first after halftime, but was forced to punt after one first down. Woodberry then covered 78 yards in four plays, with Stone hitting sophomore Dequece Carter across the middle for a catch-and-run gain of 45 before Jana elevated and hauled in a 30-yard pass in the back of the endzone.
“We always seem to handle adversity well,” said Alexander. “We had a chance to let them back into it, got an immediate [punt], and went right down and scored twice. You could see the air kind of come out of them at that point.”
Collegiate’s next series similarly included one first down, this time courtesy of defensive pass interference, before three straight incompletions brought another punt. Woodberry responded with a five-play drive covering 64 yards, capped by Stone-to-Jana for a 53-yard touchdown.
“We practiced that play all week,” said Jana, who finished with 131 yards on five receptions. “We knew that their DBs bite a lot, so I broke down a little bit, the DB bit, and I just took off. Lindell gave me a perfect ball.”
With Woodberry opening a 19-point lead with 5:08 left in the third, the Cougars never threatened to make it a game. The offense went three-and-out on each of its next two possessions as Woodberry held the upper hand in field position. As they would for their next three possessions, the Tigers started their next series in Collegiate territory, but Stone’s deep pass on third-and-10 was picked by junior defensive back Joseph White. The Tigers were content to punt and play defense the rest of the way.
Stone finished 26-of-41 for 454 yards and four touchdowns. Carter was his top target, grabbing 11 passes for 194 yards and one score.
“I literally said on the sideline, ‘man does he (Dequece) have a brand new set of brakes,’” Alexander said. “He just stops on a dime and pushes them by. He’s a young sophomore, and as he gets older and gets that extra step, he’s really going to cause problems.”
Fellow sophomore Luke Hutchinson pulled down six catches for 73 yards. Junior Jameel Wilson led the ground game with 12 carries for 50 yards, while Stone added 21 yards on seven rushes. Korey Smith, usually a linebacker, scored the Tigers’ lone rushing touchdown on the day with a 5-yard carry to open the scoring for Woodberry.
Woodberry (4-1, 1-0) heads to Trinity Episcopal next Saturday afternoon.