WINCHESTER — It only took nine seconds to completely change the complexion between James Wood and Hedgesville (W.Va.).
Those nine ticks before halftime gave the Colonels the cushion they needed to eventually come away with a 28-0 win.
The story went from the heavy underdog and winless Eagles being down just 7-0 at halftime to the Colonels taking a three-touchdown lead.
With nine seconds to go in the half, James Wood running back Tyler Bishop crossed the goal line on a 19-yard touchdown run to give the Colonels a 14-0 lead.
Colonels’ kicker Brady Burner followed up with a kickoff into the end zone for a touchback.
On the next play Dillon Manuel picked off a Hedgesville pass and followed a convoy of Colonels up the sideline to add another touchdown as time expired. In the blink of an eye, James Wood’s lead went from seven to 21 points.
“That’s amazing,” Bishop said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. Dillon made a good play on the ball and he really stepped up for us tonight.”
“Coach called a cover two,” Manuel said. “I knew it was either a big play or they were going to make a big play. I just came out on top with the ball and my teammates blocked for me coming down the field and that’s just what it’s about, working as a team. That was a big play going into halftime.”
“In 40 years I’ve probably seen something like that,” said James Wood coach Mark McHale. “I don’t think too much of it.”
The Colonels initial touchdown was far less exhilarating but showed off more of their ground and pound running game. The initial drive took nearly five minutes and every one of the 87 yards was accounted for by Bishop in the trenches. Bishop (151 yards on 26 carries) surpassed 1,000 yards for the season in that drive. He now has 1,114.
After grabbing the lead James Wood’s offense fell silent until those final seconds, other than a dazzling one-handed catch by Manuel, who added that to his resume of a masterful game.
“I thought Dillon Manuel had a great game,” McHale said. “He had a great one-handed catch, the interception, man he was all over the field. I was really proud of Dillon.”
Manuel ended with 108 yards receiving and a touchdown to go with his pick-six. He also had another interception that was negated by a penalty, something that was common for the Colonels, who had eight penalties for 80 yards.
“The biggest [problem] for me is all of the penalties,” McHale said. “That’s too many penalties two weeks in a row. It’s going to be hard to beat somebody that’s really good with all those penalties.”
“We could have done a lot better,” James Wood quarterback Dade Carroll said. “We had way too many penalties and we need to improve on that. I think we got too big-headed thinking we were going to get an easy win, then I think reality hit and we had to step it up. They played with a lot of heart.”
One play that was not taken away came when the Colonels were facing a long yardage situation late in the third quarter.
Carroll hit Manuel, who raced 79 yards for the touchdown. Manuel plucked the ball out of the air and eluded several Hedgesville defenders before accelerating down the field into the end zone.
“I told the other receiver to switch on that play because I wanted to run the corner,” Manuel said. “So I ran the corner and Dade has been connecting with me all season. Somehow he squeezed the ball in there. I turned up field.
“The ball seemed like it took forever to come down. Dade and I connected on a corner last week so I felt like it was a good play for us to connect on. I trusted Dade on that route.”
“I knew I needed to put the ball downfield,” said Carroll, who was 5 for 12 for 109 yards. “We put Dillon in the right spot to get open and he came through for us.”
The Wood defense held the Eagles to just 124 total yards.
Hedgesville had been giving up 62.5 points per game this season.
James Wood next faces unbeaten Sherando.
“I think the whole team was taking this team [Hedgesville] lightly,” said Manuel. “But you can’t do that you have to come out and play every play like it’s your last. You can’t take anybody for granted. I’m ready to focus on Sherando now. I think if we play 100 percent then we are going to give Sherando a game.”
“We’re 4-1 and this is the first goose egg we’ve had,” McHale said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a goose egg. I was proud of our defense. They’ve played two good games in a row. Whenever you have a shutout that’s big, those are hard to come by.”