By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
PURCELLVILLE -- For the first time this season, Gage Steele didn't rush for over 200 yards in a football game. But it didn't really matter, as Warren County quarterback Tyler Post made up for that by throwing for 150 yards to lead the Wildcats to a convincing 28-7 win Friday at Woodgrove.
"We looked at them on film and their line is pretty big," Wildcats coach Tony Tallent said. "Last week Tuscarora had great skill on the outside, so we went right at them. This week was different. We plan each game for our opponent, and we thought that we needed to be able to pass against Woodgrove."
Steele managed just 84 yards on 21 carries, but his presence affected Post's ability to pass the ball as the Wolverines (0-3) stacked their defense to stop the Wildcats tailback. Warren County's (3-0) strategy of throwing its way to victory was apparent from their first play, when Post launched a 27-yard strike to Wildcats receiver Jeremy Vogt. Warren County was held on downs by Woodgrove at the Wolverine 43 on that series, but the stage was set for more aerial heroics by the Wildcats.
The Wolverines' defense did a good job of stopping Steele, holding him to less than 100 yards for the first time this season. The Warren County junior tallied 84 yards on 21 carries, and wasn't even the leading rusher for the game. That honor went to Woodgrove tailback Matthew Reed, who rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries.
Despite the lack of yards, Steele was the workhorse the Wildcats needed when they got into the red zone. After a scoreless first quarter, Warren County scored on the first play of the second period on a 3-yard plunge off right guard by Steele to go up 7-0. It was the first of three touchdowns for Steele.
Although the Wolverines had some success slowing down the Wildcats' running game, Warren County's defense completely shut down Woodgrove's offense until the last drive of the game. The Wolverines managed just 48 yards of total offense in the first half and never seriously threatened the Wildcats' end zone.
"This was definitely the best showing of our defense so far this year," Tallent said. "I was really proud of the way the kids played. We were a little nicked up coming into this game, but we were able to battle through that."
With Warren County leading 7-0 heading into the second half, the Wildcats turned to Steele for the offensive punch they needed inside the red zone to pull away from the Wolverines.
Steele scored on touchdown runs of 10 and two yards in the third quarter to leave no doubt who the eventual winner would be. But it was Damien Caison who had the most spectacular touchdown of the night, and it was through the air.
With the Wildcats facing second-and-5 on their own 42 midway through the third quarter, Post hit Caison in the flat, and the Warren County senior did the rest. Breaking tackle after tackle, he literally ran over and through the Woodgrove defense for a 58-yard touchdown.
"We were little hurried getting over here," Tallent said. "I felt that we were a little out of rhythm in the first half, and it showed. Once we got out there for the second half we did a lot better."
The Wildcats' defense was in rare form, holding the Wolverines to just 80 yards through all but the last drive of the game.
With the clock clicking down the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Woodgrove drove the ball 91 yards in 13 plays on the last offensive series of the game to get its only touchdown on the last play of the game. Reed was the driving force, rushing for 80 yards on 10 carries.
Wolverines quarterback Tyler Workman got the touchdown on a 7-yard run.
"They have some great football players and they beat us up out there," Woodgrove coach Jerrold Gordon said. "I was proud of how our kids kept on playing even though we were behind by almost 30 points. That effort really paid off at the end of the game."