By Jim Laise - email@example.com
QUICKSBURG -- When your team is playing against a ball control unit that refuses to make mistakes it is best to make none of your own.
But, that is just what happened to home-standing Stonewall Jackson on Friday night as the Generals dropped a Shenandoah District game to Stuarts Draft 34-14.
"You can't, but we teach our ball-carriers better than that. They know. That's what they're getting paid for," said Stonewall coach Dick Krol.
Stonewall running back Jacob Armell did bust loose for a long one at the end, but it was too little too late for the Generals, who dropped to 2-4 in the district and 2-7 overall on Senior Night.
Stonewall, clinging to faint hopes of a playoff spot, travels to Wilson Memorial (6-0, 8-1) a week from Friday. Stuarts Draft (4-2, 5-4) -- winner of three of its last four games--continues its charge for the playoffs.
The winners, under coach Rod Bowers, used a single-wing to rush for 193 yards while the Generals ran for 158, most of which came in the second half.
Stonewall Jackson's chances for an upset began to crumble early, and Stuarts Draft nailed the door shut with a big play at the end of the first half.
"We could have won," said Armell. "We had too many mental mistakes. Our heads weren't into it like they were supposed to be, with the fumbles, the turnovers and the penalties."
On Stonewall's second possession of the game, things started to unravel. Quarterback Daniel Buhl's pitch fell on the ground just shy of teammate Jared Getz, but Stuarts Draft's Sebastian Fannan plopped on the ball to set things in motion for the Cougars' first score.
That was delivered when running back Trey Bell took a pitch for a 2-yard touchdown after a grinding drive. Kicker Zach Sauder added the point and the Cougars owned a 7-0 lead it would never relinquish.
At the outset of the second quarter, the home team was the recipient of a gift when defensive end Dylan Goble pounced on a free ball at the Stuarts Draft 35.
Stonewall could not budge the larger Stuarts Draft front, so kicker Juan Luna was brought in for what amounted to a 48-yard field goal try. Luna's kick was blocked and recovered by Bell with 9:35 to go in the half.
"We thought we'd go for the field goal, try to score some points and build some momentum. It just didn't work out," Getz said.
Stuarts Draft drove to the Stonewall 9-yard line, but relinquished the ball on downs. Stonewall, which rushed for 53 yards in the first half, did nothing to advance, and gave the ball back to the visitors.
On second down, Cougar quarterback Chris Knecht uncorked a 59-yard pass and run to Jordan Davenport, who took it in without a Stonewall defensive back around for a 13-0 lead with 3:52 left in the half.
With Armell and Getz starting to find lanes on the ground, Stonewall pushed it to midfield where it handed the ball back on downs.
That was all Cougar quarterback Knecht needed. With 15.8 seconds showing before intermission, he found a wide open Brett Haymon for a 70-yard score and run.
"We played hard, but that was just dumb," Krol said. "I don't know if our guy knew how fast [Haymon] was or underestimated his speed. Whatever it was it cost us."
Stonewall Jackson got on the board for the first time on the night in the third quarter, as Buhl scored on a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:20 to go in the third.
Stonewall struck last on a 52-yard run by Armell with less than a minute remaining.
Armell rushed for 84 yards (all but two came in the second half) for Stonewall. Getz added 64 (44 of which occurred in half two).