Freshman Fuels James Wood's Rout Of Park View

Posted: September 3, 2016
The Winchester Star

STERLING — James Wood freshman William Crowder’s 95-yard kickoff return was the lone highlight in the Colonels’ season-opening loss to Heritage a week ago.

The Colonels coaching staff decided to give Crowder a few more touches in Week 2, putting his speed on display by inserting him at wingback for the first time against Park View.

It sure paid off.

Crowder averaged 21 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns in the first half on his first four carries, helping James Wood take the momentum early en route 23-6 victory over Park View at Patriots Stadium on Friday night.

"It’s a good win for James Wood," Colonels coach Mark McHale said. "They’re a good, physical team that had a big win under their belt coming into this game. It’s just big for us. It’s really a big win."

The Colonels (1-1) spoiled Park View’s home opener Friday with several big plays.

Park View (1-1) cut James Wood’s lead to 14-6 with 4:29 left in the third quarter on a freak touchdown.

On first-and-10 at the Wood 46, Nico Hopkins burst through the middle of the James Wood defense for a big gain down to about the 25. Hopkins fell on a pile of players as he was tackled, but never hit the ground. James Wood’s defenders thought Hopkins was down by contact — or the whistle had blown — but Hopkins got up off the pile and raced in for a 46-yard touchdown.

But James Wood made sure the Patriots’ momentum didn’t last very long.

Crowder returned the kickoff 24 yards to the Wood 29. On first down, Colonels senior quarterback Dade Carroll connected with tight end Noah Sullivan for a 71-yard catch and run, stretching the Colonels’ lead back to 21-6 with 4:06 left in the third quarter.

Sullivan credited Carroll for the momentum-changing touchdown pass.

"It was really close and they had just scored a touchdown, so we knew we needed to come up big," Sullivan said. "The line did an amazing job blocking, Dade was able to put it on the money , and I got a key block and took it for a great touchdown."

Park View coach Mick Mullins said his team was back in the game until Sullivan’s score.

"We get that freak play where [Hopkins] scores when [Wood] thought the whistle had been blown, and I told the kids ‘we got an opportunity there and we need to take advantage of it,’" Mullins said. "Then they hit us, and that was a big play — that pass [to Sullivan]. That kind of sucked the life off the sideline, and we’ve got to learn to fight through that."

James Wood’s defense gave up some yards, but the Colonels made key stops when they needed them.

On Park View’s ensuing drive after Sullivan’s score, the Patriots took over at their own 34, but a bad snap on second-and-7 from the 37 led to Patriots junior quarterback Adam Thorne getting sacked for a loss of six yards. On the next play, Thorne was thrown for a loss and fumbled, sending the ball back near the goal line. Hopkins finally covered it at the 2 for a 29-yard loss, forcing the Patriots to punt out of their own end zone.

The Colonels blocked Anthony Lampe’s punt, and the ball bounced out of the back of the end zone for a safety, giving the Colonels a 23-6 lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter.

That score ended up being the final margin.

"[Our defense] bent a little bit, but they played good and tough," said McHale, of a unit that sacked Thorne four times. "They beat Manassas Park bad, so I thought it would be a closer game than this."

Crowder’s speed, and Carroll’s efficiency in the passing game were two big reasons for the Colonels’ comfortable victory.

Carroll threw for 116 yards and a score, and had a 41-yard TD pass to Crowder nullified by a penalty late in the fourth quarter.

"What was really good was Dade was 5 for 6 for 116 yards," McHale said. "That was big because they put their safeties up [on the line] on our running game, and they paid the price for it."

Both teams finished with 286 yards of offense.

Park View struggled to get much going offensively in the first half. The Patriots came up empty on five possessions, punting twice and Lampe missed on a pair of field goal attempts from 50- and 36-yards, respectively. The Patriots also had a drive end on an interception by Ryan Bearer, setting up James Wood’s second touchdown to put the Colonels ahead 14-0 at the half.

Crowder provided instant offense for the Colonels when he checked in at wingback.

He moved the chains on all four carries in the first half, ripping off a pair of runs for 14 yards on the Colonels’ opening drive before scoring from 30-yards out.

After Bearer’s interception gave the Colonels the ball at the Patriot 26, Crowder scored on an inside reverse to give the Colonels a 14-0 lead with 2:49 remaining in the opening quarter. Colonels kicker Jacob Sortino added his second extra point.

Crowder said he’s just happy to help the team any way he can.

"It was just good blocks from the offensive linemen," said Crowder, who finished with 139 all-purpose yards (returning two kickoffs for 50 yards). "It feels good to get two touchdowns as a freshman. We knew they were going to be a tough team to play, but it feels good to come out with the ‘W.’"

Crowder finished with 94 yards on seven carries (13.4 per carry average), and Colonels senior fullback Isaac Schrantz rushed for 68 yards on 18 carries (3.8 per carry). The Colonels totaled 170 yards rushing with Crowder and Schrantz combining for all but eight of those.

"We knew they were going to be a tough opponent, and we definitely had to prepare because we knew that this was going to be a must-win for us," said Sullivan, who had two catches for 86 yards and six tackles on defense. "It feels amazing to come on the road and get things done in a great team effort on our part."

Hopkins rushed for a game-high 180 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

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