Cougars pull away from Colonels in final quarter

NOKESVILLE — Kettle Run coach Charlie Porterfield said the improvement of the James Wood football team this season is glaring.
And his highly-rated Cougars found out just how much the Colonels could put up a fight. James Wood was within a touchdown heading into the final quarter of Thursday's regular-season finale before quarterback Gabe Chumley helped stymie the Colonels' upset bid.
Chumley tossed three of his school-record six touchdown passes in the final 11 minutes as Kettle Run netted a 41-14 triumph over James Wood.
The Cougars (9-1, 5-1) finished second to Sherando in the Class 4 Northwestern District and likely will earn the third seed in the Region 4C playoffs.
The season ended for James Wood (4-6, 2-4), but the Colonels earned a measure of respect from their foe on Thursday.
“James Wood is a drastically different team than they were last year,” Porterfield said. “I was very impressed with them. The game plan that they were executing was awesome and their boys played really hard. It really took us getting back on track in order to have the outcome it did.”
Lineman Luke Roy, the only Colonels senior to play as a freshman, said the season was special, especially coming off a pair of 2-8 campaigns.
“I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to play with and to have a season where we beat Handley, it was amazing,” said an emotional Roy after the game. “We improved to 2-8 to 4-6. I wish the best for them in the years coming on.”
Although they trailed 14-0 at the half and 21-0 in the third quarter, the Colonels pushed much of the action early. James Wood had three time-consuming drives in the first half that ended deep in Kettle Run territory, two of those halted when the Cougars stopped the Colonels for no gain on fourth-and-1.
“When it came down to short yardage and we needed a yard here or a yard there, they just had the bigger, stronger guys,” James Wood coach Ryan Morgan said. “They were controlling the line of scrimmage.”
Down 21-0 after Chumley's 13-yard TD pass to Jacob Osteros with 7:20 left in the third quarter, the Colonels staged a comeback.
Aided by two personal foul penalties, they drove 80 yards. They got a big break when Carson Hoberg's third-down pass went through the hands of a Kettle Run defensive back and Treyven Mandel speared it and took it two the Cougars' 1. Two plays later, William Crowder swept right behind a huge block from Roy and scored from five yards out. Chris Garcia Ortega's extra point made it 21-7.
On Kettle Run's next drive, Luke Esparza picked off Chumley's deep pass at the James Wood 42. On second down from the Cougars' 35, Hoberg hit Mandel in stride and the senior slipped a tackle to race into the end zone to make it 21-14 with 17 seconds left in the period.
And after a penalty on the kickoff return, the Cougars started at their own 5.
With the momentum shifting the Colonels' way, Kettle Run's Cade Campbell changed it back. Following a nine-yard run, Campbell bolted 69 yards and a face mask penalty moved the ball to the James Wood 12. Two plays later, Chumley lofted a 10-yard TD pass to Shannon Ferguson. A missed extra point made the score 27-14 with 10:48 left.
“Cade's run there definitely brought us back to life,” Chumley said. “Cade's run did that and once we scored we knew that we were just going to roll. When we're rolling, there's not a lot of people that can stop us.”
“We had stalled a little bit on offense and had some penalties that got us behind the sticks,” Porterfield said. “There are not a lot of calls for third-and-15 or second-and-20. The fact that he was able to bust that off and give us that spark, we able to rally for the second half of the game.”
After forcing a punt, the Cougars got going behind their other running back Ridge Scott. A 23-yard run preceded Scott's 19-yard TD catch on a screen pass as the Kettle Run lead ballooned to 34-14.
After the Colonels turned the ball over on downs, Chumley capped his huge night with a 12-yard TD pass to Chris Kallighan. The historic pass beat his brother Casen's mark of five TD passes in a game set last season.
“I'm going to be FaceTiming him tonight,” Gabe Chumley said.
“He's just extremely accurate,” Morgan said of Chumley, who was 19 of 24 for 258 yards. “He knows where he wants to go with the ball and their coaches do a good job of calling plays. He's a good runner as well. It's really hard to play against somebody like that because he doesn't have a whole lot of weaknesses we can pick on.”
Roy said the Colonels gave it everything.
“We played our butts off for the first three [quarters],” Roy said. “They're a heck-of-a football team. You can't argue with that. They have improved since I started playing against them, too.”
Chumley had touchdown passes to five different receivers. Ferguson caught a pair, including one with 23 seconds left in the first half. Ben Heflin, who caught a first-half TD, had six catches for 70 yards and Ferguson had five for 82. Campbell had five carries for 104 yards, while Scott added 13 carries for 83 yards.
The Colonels did most of their damage on the ground (178 yards on 37 carries), though they had to play most of the contest without fullback/linebacker Jackson Turner, who was injured early in the second half. Crowder led the Colonels with 53 yards on nine carries. Hoberg was 4 of 11 for 85 yards.
While disappointed with a loss, Morgan said his team did show improvement in his second season at the helm.
“We were bigger and stronger than we were last year,” he said. “I told the kids just now, we're going to get back in the weight room in a few weeks and try to do our best to keep ascending. I think and hope that we are an ascending program.
“I hope we can play more games like this, keep things close and hopefully come out with victories in the future. A lot of these guys are coming back next year. We lost a lot of seniors who are valuable players and good leaders. I think they've set a good legacy for the next team. Next year we'll see what happens, but hopefully we can knock off a couple of these teams that are just a notch above us or two.”
Roy said the seniors leave the squad in good hands.
“They're the best group of juniors out there,” he said. “They are a great group of guys. I wouldn't rather leave it to anybody else.”
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