By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Peyton Hottel was ticked off on Friday night, and that was a very good thing for James Wood at Jerry Kelican Stadium.
The Colonels' starting place kicker and punter got off to an inauspicious start against visiting Washington, W.Va., when his first varsity punt was blocked deep in James Wood territory late in the first quarter.
Hottel got mad, then got even by nailing his first career field-goal attempt. Then he drilled a wickedly knuckling punt that resulted in a fumble to set up his second field goal to help boost the Colonels to a season-opening 13-7 victory.
"He was clutch tonight," James Wood coach Mike Bolin said. "We have two really good kickers -- we have Chandler DeHaven and Peyton.
"Honest to God, when it was all said and done, at the end of camp we decided to go with Peyton because he's a senior. Chandler's right there, and Peyton knows he's on a short leash. If he doesn't get the job done, Chandler's going to come in and help us out."
Tied at 7-all early in the fourth quarter, the Colonels capped a 17-play, 62-yard drive with Hottel's 26-yard field goal to take the lead with nine minutes to play. After forcing Washington (0-2) to punt on its ensuing possession, James Wood (1-0) got nowhere on its next series and sent Hottel out for his first punt attempt since the Patriots' Malcolm Newman had swatted his kick out of the air in the first quarter.
Hottel got the punt off, a soaring blast that covered 36 yards in the air. Washington's Colin Gustines had trouble settling under it as the ball carried, and when he fumbled the catch, the Colonels' Tripp Lewis was there to take advantage. One of the Colonels' appointed gunners on special teams, Lewis did his job by racing downfield to reach the ball just as it was falling to the turf.
"He had a great punt," said Lewis, who also had an interception in the game. "I was just hustling down there. I saw him catch it, but then it started coming out. So it just gave me an extra burst. I saw him fumble the ball, and I decided to go for it. I just hit him and I ended up coming up with it."
Washington coach Mark Hash could see the kick was trouble.
"It looked like the back of the ball was coming straight down," Hash said. "Anytime the back of the ball comes down instead of turning over, that ball's going to drop straight down. That's football. Those are going to happen. You see it on every level."
Six plays later, Hottel cashed in with another 26-yard field goal to put the Colonels up by six with 2:45 to play.
Hottel admits he was a little aggressive on that second punt.
"I got the first one blocked; I was kind of upset about that," Hottel said. "Everyone tried to pick me up, and I just went out there and kicked it as hard as I could, pretty much. I came up lucky on that, and Tripp did a great job of going down and making the play."
The Patriots' final drive stalled at their own 49 on fourth-and-6 when quarterback Tyler Wilt misfired on a pass attempt, and the Colonels grinded out a first down before facing a fourth-and-4 at the Washington 16 with 42 seconds to go. After a timeout, the Patriots effectively took themselves out by an offsides penalty that gave James Wood a final first down and the ability to run out the clock.
The Colonels got off to a quick start, scoring on their first possession when Cory Schrock (game-high 79 rushing yards) dashed through a massive hole on a counter play and raced 28 yards for a touchdown. But despite dominating time of possession by nearly 16 minutes and almost doubling Washington's offensive output, the Colonels only managed Hottel's two field goals the rest of the way.
"If you look at the numbers and then look at the score, you'd think it was worse than it was," Bolin said. "We started out like this last year. We've got to figure out what we're doing. We had a couple times when we drove it deep and didn't get any points out of it. When we get into our district, we can't do that stuff."