And again, and again: Woodberry rolls past Paul VI with monster first quarter

Photo: Ryan Yemen

The entire Woodberry coaching staff was hoping that the Tigers would come off their bye week and execute efficiently on both sides of the ball. The score after just 12 minutes of play was evidence of just how dangerous this team can be when they do what their coaches ask. The second half fulfilled what the coaches really wanted though, a 48-minute showing. This game was never close as Woodberry throttled Paul VI 52-6 with quarterback Will Wideman throwing for six touchdowns and rushing for another.


“I think we had great preparation for an open week and we tried to work on some fundamentals and really sharpen up the conditioning,” said Woodberry Forest coach Scott Braswell. “We’ve struggled in the second half in two of our previous three games. So the real focus was making sure we cleaned some of that up.”


By the second half, the game was well behind, but the Tigers obliged their first year coach anyways, winning that half 17-0 with a running clock. What was most impressive though was the first quarter.


After the defense forced a punt from Paul VI on its opening possession, the Tigers got to work quickly. On their second play from scrimmage, Wideman found a wide open Khalid Thomas for a 46-yard touchdown. Two minutes later, on the next Woodberry possession, Wideman hit George Pettegrew, who scored from 54 yards out. Four minutes later it was Jameel Wilson’s turn as he took a screen pass and ran it for a 54-yard touchdown. Just under three minutes later, it was Dequece Carter’s turn as he hauled in a 24-yard reception to make it 28-0 with 12 seconds to play in the first quarter.


“We really just came out here and executed,” Wideman said. “The receivers did a great job making plays and the o-line gave me a lot of time and that always makes it easy. I just have to make sure I don’t mess it up for these guys really, they make my job easy.”


In the second quarter, the Panthers were finally able to string together some first downs. While Woodberry was able to come up with one redzone turnover on downs, Paul VI was able to break up the shutout when Billy Saffin was just able to break the plane on fourth and inches. But the Tigers responded by marching down the field and getting back their four possession lead at 35-6 when Carter took a short pass from Wideman for a 12-yard touchdown with 28 seconds until the break.


“We had the matchups we wanted and knew what plays we wanted to run against those coverages,” Wideman said. “We really came together as a team after that first loss and we’ve bonded and we’re playing with a chip on our shoulder.”


The third quarter saw the Tigers get right back to work. Woodberry capped its opening drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown from Wideman. The Tigers defense then came up with another fourth down stop. It was quite the day for Woodberry’s defense as the longest play from scrimmage for the Panthers came on a on botched punt snap and run from the team’s punter in the second quarter.


“Well we knew coming in that they were big on the veer option, the offense that Navy runs,” said senior linebacker John Harris who had a trio of tackles and forced a fumble. “It’s two backs and the quarterback making reads on the ends. To counter that, we put seven guys in the box. Two weeks ago we ran the 42, so this week it was the 52 and we were able play it perfectly with the linebackers scraped well and we all just did our jobs to counter it.”


That stop set up a Wideman to Carter connection for 65 yards and a 49-6 lead. With the clock running and plenty of substitutions on both sides of the ball, the Tigers were able to tack on a field goal with just over six minutes to play in the fourth.


On the day, Wideman finished with 533 yards passing, 50 yards rushing and seven total TD’s.


“It’s just really impressive what he’s doing,” Braswell said.  “The guy played defensive back last year and got very few reps at quarterback. Will is from Texas and just a football guy. He just does a great job of leading the offense and finding the open receiver and spreading the ball all around.”


Carter wound up with seven catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson had three catches for 92 yards. Pettegrew finished with four receptions for 80 yards. Thomas had three catches for 73 yards.


Defensively, Warren Mathews finished with eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Will Strugis and Cameron Hill both had interceptions. Dean Browning had seven tackles including a pair of sacks. Hudson Bennett also had seven tackles.


The Tigers (3-1) will travel to Collegiate (3-1) on Friday at 4 p.m. for a big Prep League showdown.