Purcellville, Va. — A lot of the time, football is about winning the battle in the trenches: who can slowly and steadily control the clock, the running game, and the line of scrimmage. Other times, it’s the big play that makes all the difference. Well, in their regular season finale the Woodgrove High School football team did a good job running the football and used two big chunk plays to get on the board while their defense did enough to hold off Potomac Falls—spoiling the Panthers’ region playoff hopes—20-13, on April 3 in Purcellville.
“We’ve been in some competitive games with Riverside and Freedom, and we kind of got lucky that they got blown open,” Woodgrove head coach Derek Barlow said. “We haven’t really been in a dog fight yet, so to pull out a win like that is a big deal.”
The Wolverines got on the board early in the second quarter when junior athlete Price Williams broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers responded with a meticulous 80-yard scoring drive which took nearly seven minutes and was capped off by a touchdown pitch and catch from junior quarterback Matt Graham to junior receiver Jalen Jackson to tie things up at 7-7.
However, Potomac Falls held the lead for just 17 seconds as on the ensuing kickoff, Woodgrove sophomore returner Alec Hughes returned the kickoff 89 yards to the house—marking the second longest kickoff return touchdown in Woodgrove history.
“They grabbed the momentum, and we weren’t running the ball north-south like I like,” Barlow said. “That kickoff return was huge to provide a spark and take some of the onus off the offense.”
It was a big break for the Wolverines’ offense which really struggled through the air, completing just 4 of 12 passes for 18 yards. Fortunately, Woodgrove had some more success on the ground, carrying the ball 44 times for 229 yards.
Despite a solid running attack, the Wolverines couldn’t put the Panthers away. Midway through the third quarter Potomac Falls senior receiver Sam Moore made an acrobatic, over-the-shoulder, diving catch in the endzone to cut the Woodgrove lead to 14-13. Williams was able to bust through the offensive line on the point after attempt, blocking the kick as the Wolverines held their lead.
“They’re banged up. Let’s be honest, three games in ten days kind of hindered them. You could tell their legs were a little dead,” Barlow said. “Their coaching, their scheme, everything about them is pretty scary watching film. We just wanted to line up in the correct coverage defensively and bend but not break.”
Late in the third quarter, Potomac Falls caught their first big break of the game when the Wolverines fumbled on their own goal line, setting up a 14-13 game with 12 minutes to play.
The Woodgrove defense stood strong on the ensuing possession then used a hard count midway through the fourth quarter to draw the Panthers’ offsides, picking up a much needed first down on 4th-and-5.
On the very next play, Woodgrove sophomore running back Antonio Cammarota carried the ball in from 6 yards out to extend the Wolverines’ lead to 20-13, after a blocked PAT attempt.
After a quick three-and-out, the Wolverines got the ball with about four minutes to play in the game. After picking up a first down inside Panthers’ territory, Woodgrove continued to pound the ground, coughing up their second lost fumble of the afternoon, setting up what looked like a final opportunity for Potomac Falls to secure their region playoff berth. However, an inadvertent whistle by a referee led to the officiating crew deciding to give Woodgrove the ball back to replay the down.
From there the Wolverines were able to chew up the clock, holding off the Panthers and securing the No. 3 seed in the VHSL Region 5C tournament.
“We were able to manage the clock and get the first downs when we needed to,” Barlow said. “I was really proud of our resilience today.”
With their regular season wrapped up, the No. 3 Wolverines will now look towards their VHSL Region 5C semifinal matchup with No. 2 Briar Woods on April 9 in Ashburn. Potomac Falls will play their final game of the season against Heritage on April 9 in Leesburg.
“They’ve been doing all the little things right, and our young guys just keep responding to the challenges,” Barlow said. “I’m pretty excited for them.”
|2Q||11:05||Woodgrove||Price Williams 72-yard TD run (Kollin Samaha PAT)||7-0|
|2Q||4:27||Potomac Falls||Matt Graham to Jalen Jackson 8-yard TD pass (Davion Moore PAT)||7-7|
|2Q||4:10||Woodgrove||Alex Hughes 89-yard kickoff return TD (Kollin Samaha PAT)||14-7|
|3Q||6:34||Potomac Falls||Matt Graham to Sam Moore 13-yard TD pass (PAT blocked)||14-13|
|4Q||5:39||Woodgrove||Antonio Cammarota 6-yard TD run (PAT blocked)||20-13|