WINCHESTER — The outcome was a familiar one, but the luster was returned to the Sherando-James Wood football rivalry Friday night.
Sherando senior running back D.J. Myers scored on a 40-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left — 26 seconds after James Wood took its only lead of the game on a Brady Burner 30-yard field goal — and the Warriors held on for a thrilling 14-10 win in the Northwestern District and Barr-Lindon Crimson Apple opener for both teams at Kelican Stadium.
Sherando didn’t secure the win until there were 30 seconds remaining, when linebackers Tyler Tinsman and David Eppard teamed up to stop Tyler Bishop just behind the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-2 run toward the right side of the line from the Sherando 25.
It was a finish reminiscent of the eight games played between these two Frederick County rivals from 2006-11. Seven of those eight games — including both playoff games — were decided by seven points or less, and most were decided in the final minute, sometimes the last play.
The Warriors (6-0, 1-0 Northwestern) — who had blown out James Wood (4-2, 0-1) by at least 35 in each of their last four meetings — were just glad that they once again found away to come out on top after holding off a remarkable Colonels’ effort. James Wood still only has two wins over Sherando all-time (1993 and 2008).
“We knew they were better than they were last year, and they came out and played like it,” Tinsman said. “They took it to us a little bit, but we just kept going and did what we were supposed to do.”
The Warriors — ranked No. 1 in the 4A West Region — took the opening kickoff and marched 81 yards over 14 plays for a 7-0 lead, but from that point on the Colonels’ defense made practically every stop it needed to in shutting out Sherando over 34-plus minutes and taking a 10-7 lead.
On a field made slick by a pregame rainstorm, the Colonels accomplished that by stacking the box, and Sherando quarterback Pat Minteer (11 of 18 for 92 yards) and his receivers never developed a rhythm in the wet conditions.
But Myers (31 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns Friday) has been a force for the Warriors all year, and he’s repeatedly shown he doesn’t need much of a an opening to gut a defense.
After picking up 12 yards on Sherando’s first offensive play following Burner’s field goal, he took a pitch to the left and waited patiently for an opening while keeping his feet moving. Suddenly he burst through a hole, then after nearing the 30 he cut inside a defender and took the ball in the rest of the way untouched to make it 14-10 Sherando with 6:32 left.
“I got the toss, I saw the cutback lane, and I just made [the cut],” Myers said.
Sherando was almost pinned deep in its own territory when Jacquari Hayes fumbled the kickoff return, but he picked it up and returned it 28 yards to the Warrior 48 to set up the Myers’ TD.
Suddenly, a Sherando crowd that had been silenced by Burner’s field goal came to life, but the Colonels battled until the end and showed their own grit in the process.
James Wood’s first possession after Myers’ touchdown ended with Dylan Rivers intercepting Dade Carroll (10 of 14 for 118 yards) and giving the Warriors the ball at the Colonels’ 34, but Wood forced a three-and-out and took over at its own 20.
Carroll connected on passes of 14, 17, 22 and 3 yards to get James Wood to the Sherando 25 and set up third-and-2.
Carroll then threw a pass that would have been good for a first down at the Sherando 25, but Christopher Lakin — running left to right — had the ball bounce off his hands at the 10, and when he tried to bring in the carom he was hit, and the ball fell to the turf.
Following a timeout, on fourth-and-2 James Wood decided to put the ball in the hands of its best player in Bishop (22 carries, 66 yards, one TD). But the Warriors filled the hole quickly, giving Bishop virtually no shot at the first down.
“I got a pull from the backside, and I just came straight downhill,” Tinsman said. “I saw him right there, and made the play.”
The Warriors struggled to stop the trap play that fullback Asa Brewer used to gain 50 yards on four plays — his 27-yard run on the Colonels’ first offensive play of the second half spurred a drive that ended with Bishop’s four-yard TD run that tied the score at 7 just 1:48 into the second half.
But Sherando didn’t give up much on a consistent basis beyond that. The Warriors were the first team this year to hold Bishop under 150 yards. They also forced the Colonels to settle for Burner’s field goal after James Wood got to the Sherando 10 halfway through the fourth quarter, and of course, made the clinching stop.
“Obviously they’re a good offense,” Sherando coach Bill Hall said. “To hold them to a field goal that one possession [when they started at the Sherando 37] was pretty good, and we made the stops when we needed to. I think our defense executed at a pretty high level.”
Though it was a loss for James Wood, the Colonels showed a lot in defeat. They twice stopped Sherando on fourth-and-2 plays in their own territory in the first half — including dropping Myers for a one-yard loss from the James Wood 2 on the last play of the first half — and came closer than anyone has to beating Sherando all year.
“I think now the program has gotten to the point now where if we play good football and don’t make a lot of mistakes, we can play with anybody, and I think we proved that tonight,” McHale said.
While Bishop wasn’t happy with the defeat, he couldn’t complain about the Colonels’ effort.
“We played tough and did what we wanted to do, but we just didn’t execute when we needed to,” he said. “[Defensively], the coaches put in a great game plan on our stunts, and when we called it right, we played well and executed.
“It’s tough losing. We wanted to beat them, and we had the drive to do it. Even though we lost, this shows we can play with anyone in the region.”