James Wood foils Rams comeback

WINCHESTER – Strasburg burrowed out of a 19-point deficit with exactly 19 minutes to go, but it was not enough as Group 4A James Wood edged the 2A Rams 26-23 Friday at Jerry Kelican Stadium.

Strasburg had the momentum early, but James Wood was able to subdue the Rams until the second half when the visitors (3-1) made up all but 16 points of their daunting challenge.

The Colonels (3-1) won for the second weekend in a row over a Bull Run District team. Over a week ago, it was on the road at Warren County.

The Colonels won for the third straight time after owning a 26-7 lead with seven minutes showing in the third quarter.

“We just beat an undefeated team,” said James Wood coach Mark McHale. “We beat an undefeated team by letting them score (12) straight points, turning the ball over and picking up (100) yards in penalties. We must be pretty good.”

The game could have been a showdown between James Wood running back Tyler Bishop (11.3 yard per carry coming in) and Strasburg running back Justin Carr (8 ypc prior to this game), but other players, including Strasburg quarterback Adam Miller, played major roles.

“I learned more about quarterback tonight than I have in my career. Throwing to the right person, managing the clock. All that stuff,” he said.

Miller completed nine of 16 passes for 117 yards, a touchdown and two picks and he also ran 15 times for 45 yards.

His other, James Wood quarterback Dade Carroll, passed for 94 yards, including one touchdown and a single INT. Favorite receiver Dillon Manuel caught four balls for 83 yards and one touchdown. Meanwhile, Strasburg’s Trevon Howard had six receptions for 88 yards.

“People will say, ‘They held Tyler (26 carries) to only (164),’ but they were important for us,” said McHale.

“We made some plays early and then we fought back. We just couldn’t convert sometimes, and against James Wood, it cost us,” said Strasburg coach Mark Roller.

“I’m still proud of the way we played.”

Strasburg kick returner Howard started off the scoring with a 90-yard run for a touchdown. 27 The kick was good for an early 7- 0 lead with 11:45 to go.

Strasburg capitalized on defense by holding the James Wood offense on a goal-line stand. James Wood had four cracks inside the Rams’ 10, but even running back Bishop could not stick it in. However, the Rams failed to move the ball and gave it back to the Colonels.

James Wood got a short field and needed just three downs to tie the game. The third carry by Miller was the charm. It went for 12 yards. The try for the two extra points failed. Strasburg held on 7-6 with 2:05 to go in the first quarter.

James Wood enjoyed admirable field position in the first quarter while Strasburg stayed within the shadow of its goal line during the frame. Three penalties hurt the Colonels.

James Wood struck in the second quarter following a Ryan Funkhouser interception. He carried the ball to the Strasburg 25. On fourth-and-10, Wood’s Carroll found Dillon Manuel sliding past his man at the goal line. His pass was on the nose. The Colonels’ attempt for two was successful, and the resulting home team lead was 14-7 with 4:37 left in the half.

Another turnover led to the Colonels’ third touchdown. This time it was a fumble recovery by James Wood. The ball started at the visitor 10. After a nine-yard carry by Bishop, quarterback Carroll carried over from the 1. The 2-point try failed, but with 3:16 left, the Colonels were ahead 20-7.

James Wood enjoyed fine field position throughout the first half. The Colonels started series from near midfield, the Strasburg 32, the Ram 45; SHS’ 26 and the visitor 10.

Meanwhile Strasburg’s starts began at its own four, 14, 10; the Ram 25 and its own 30.

Bishop carried 11 times for 88 yards and a touchdown. Carroll was 3 for 4 through the air, good enough for 50 yards and a touchdown.

The Colonels collected five penalties for 50 yards.

Strasburg had 52 yards of offense. Carr carried eight times for 18 yards.

James Wood added to its lead in the third quarter. From its own 45, McHale decided to get the ball to Bishop. He gave it to him four times to start its next scoring drive.

A holding call moved the Colonels’ possession back to the 31, but Dade found Manuel for a 30-yard gain. Bishop followed with a touchdown from the 1. The conversion failed. The score was 26-7 with seven minutes showing in the quarter with 7 minutes left in the frame.

Strasburg kept fighting. A long pass to the James Wood 35 started what amounted to a seven-play drive to the 2. On third-and-goal, Adam Miller hit Austin Miller for the two-yard score. Howard converted for two. It was 26-15 with 2:21 left in the third quarter.

The Rams were not done. Following their score, Justin Miller fell on an onsides kick. Strasburg had to give the ball back, but Tyler Brill came up with an interception to start the fourth quarter. With new life from the James Wood 15, it was up to Carr who scored from the 7. The two-point try was good.

Suddenly it was 26-23 with 10:12 left in the 34 game.

Another key play was on the way. After two first downs, Wood would run Bishop from a direct snap on fourth-and-one, but the spirted Ram defense pushed the rusher back two yards.

“We worked on stopping him all week. We had to watch him when he turned in. We did all right,” said linebacker Joshua Pritchett.

The crowd of some 400 Strasburg fans roared their approval. The Rams took over on downs with 6:49 to go.

On fourth down, Adam Miller threw short to Howard.

A subsequent unsportsmanlike call moved James Wood ahead to the Ram 36.

Again Strasburg held and started its next possession at its own 20. Adam Miller carried for 10 and a first down. Then the quarterback started winging it. He went to Howard for 21 to near midfield. Later he rambled 10 yards to the JW 35.

On fourth down, a Strasburg receiver, was knocked loose from the ball by James Wood’s Drew Keller. Then came an interception to close the game.