Kettle Run halts James Wood's comeback attempt

NOKESVILLE — Two touchdowns in a span of 41 seconds brought James Wood back into a game that was seemingly out of reach late in the third quarter against Kettle Run on Friday.
With the Colonels full of momentum and possibly a stop away from tying the score, the Cougars turned loose their huge offensive line and drained the hope away of a complete comeback.
Freshman Colton Quaker capped an 11-play, 69-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run and Kettle run handed James Wood its first loss of the season with a 42-28 triumph.
Beau Lang threw for two touchdowns and Kamran Dinicolantonio returned an interception for a score as the Cougars were able to hold off the Colonels, who got a pair of of big special teams plays to keep pace.
“We feel confident when we get into the second half of games with those guys being able to move the ball down the field and run the clock out,” Kettle Run coach Charlie Portfield said. “In the games we’ve won, we’ve been able to do that — take control, get up and eat clock.”
The prospects looked pretty bleak for James Wood (3-1 overall, 1-1 Class 4 Northwestern District), when Jordan Tapscott went 18 yards on a reverse to give the Cougars a 35-14 lead with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
But less than a minute later, it was a one-score game.
Jaden Ashby, who had been kicked away from for most of the game, grabbed the ensuing kickoff, cut to the right sideline and raced 76 yards for a touchdown.
Two plays later, Karim Cisse picked off Lang at the Kettle Run 37. The Colonels needed just one play to score as Jared Neal fired a 37-yard strike to a wide open Zack Rose. Suddenly, it was a 35-28 game with 28 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Our kids, we’ve been in some tough spots before,” James Wood coach Ryan Morgan said. “We were down a couple of touchdowns to Pulaski a couple of weeks ago. … We made some big plays and some nice plays in the second half there. We’ve always got a big play that could break out and give you a little bit of a spark.”
Needing to stem the momentum, Kettle Run (4-1, 1-0) turned to its beefy line to impose its will upon the Colonels defense. The 11-play march would feature 10 running plays and the Cougars would overcome a pair of holding penalties and the loss of their top running back.
After gaining 35 yards on a pair of carries, Kettle Run tailback Peyton Mehaffey left the contest with an injury. Porterfield turned to Quaker, who did not have a carry in the game, to help finish off the march. Quaker had carries of 10, 9, 8 and 7 yards to offset one of the holding penalties, scoring on a charge up the middle to make it 42-28 with 8:11 left.
Quaker usually plays defense and is a backup fullback and running back. “He’s a good player for a freshman,” Porterfield said. “It was a big night for him.”
Morgan was worried about the Cougars’ offensive line coming into the contest.
“Their offensive line is really well coached and like I said they have those tight offensive splits,” Morgan said. “Even if we know what plays are coming and the guys are in the right gaps, it’s hard to squeeze through there. … As the night goes along, kids start to get worn down, get tired and cramp up. We started missing some tackles and they started turning those three- and four-yard gains into eight-, nine- and 10-yard gains.”
The Colonels would drive into Kettle Run territory again, but on fourth-and-7 from the Cougars’ 23 Neal’s pass to Ashby came up two yards short.
Taking over with 5:21 remaining, the Cougars would eat up most of the clock. Getting the ball at its own 39 with 52 seconds left, James Wood ran two plays before Neal’s Hail Mary to Ashby was picked off.
The Colonels seemingly had everything going right initially in the contest. After forcing a three-and-out, James Wood got the ball and drove 37 yards to the Kettle Run 20. On second down, Neal fired a pass that bounced off of Ashby’s hands to Dinicolantino who raced untouched for an 85-yard score.
The Colonels rebounded, needing just two plays to go 65 yards. After Ashby ran 31 yards, Wes Brondos burst through the left side and up the left sideline for a 34-yard TD run.
Kettle Run responded with a 65-yard drive in four plays, capped by a 50-yard TD strike from Lang to Abram Chumley to make it 14-7 with 5:39 left in the wild quarter.
Lang rushed for a 15-yard score with 21 seconds left in the period to make it 21-7. And after Kettle Run recovered a lateral, Lang hit Jacob Robinson for a 25-yard TD to make it 28-7.
Brondos’ 44-yard run keyed a drive to the Kettle Run 9, but the march ended when Neal was sacked by Mehaffey on fourth down.
The Colonels’ got another chance though as Brendan Cassidy blocked a punt and returned the ball to the Kettle Run 6. On fourth down, Ashby bulled his way into the end zone to make it 28-14, which was the halftime score.
Brondos led the Colonels with 116 yards on 17 carries. Neal was 12 of 22 for 150 yards.
Lang was 11 for 16 for 189 yards, with six completions going to Robinson for 114 yards, while the Colonels focused their attention on Tapscott (two catches, 23 yards). Led by Mehaffey (73 yards), Lang (68) and Quaker (48), the Cougars racked up 231 yards on the ground.
“We have a ton of respect for James Wood,” Porterfield said. “That coaching staff over there does a great job. That’s one of the best teams we’ve seen this year and probably one of the better teams we will see all year. My message was, ‘This is a district championship game. This is a playoff-type game. It’s going to be that type of atmosphere and that’s how we need to approach it. This is a confidence boost for us and it’s huge for us.’”
The Colonels will look to rebound as they host North Hagerstown (Md.) in a Homecoming clash on Oct. 1.
“Our goals are still within reach,” Morgan said when asked how his team will respond. “They understand that. We’ve got a loss in the district now and that’s frustrating, but we’ve already got a win in the district. We just talked to the kids about coming back tomorrow ready to work. … I think that mindset is in them that they know that they can come back and play better.”
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