Wildcats top Hawks for first-round playoff win

Ben Vogt Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County won its first playoff game in several years on Friday night. And to make it sweeter they beat their cross-town rival Skyline to do it.

The Wildcats used a balanced offensive attack and a solid defense to pull out a 31-14 home victory over Skyline in the Region 3B quarterfinals.

Last week in the regular-season finale, the Wildcats defeated Skyline, 22-21.

“It’s awesome,” Warren County running back Ronnie Dodson said. “We came out, and we knew we could beat ’em again. Not anything against Skyline, but we knew we could get ’em. And we knew we had ’em.”

Most of the night the Wildcats pounded Skyline with its running game. The Wildcats had 43 rushing attempts, but only four were for more than 10 yards. Most of Warren County’s carries went for less than 5 yards. Warren County coach Brian Bush said he told his players to just be patient and keep moving the chains.

Ronnie Dodson

“I told them just give me 3, 4 yards a play,” Bush said. “We just had to grind away at it and I knew eventually we’d get a big one.”

The Wildcats (7-4) fumbled the ball away on their first two possessions.

Skyline (4-7) took advantage of the second fumble with an 89-yard drive. They used 11 plays to score and take the lead. A 54-yard pass from Ryan Scott to Matt Rutherford, set-up a 1-yard touchdown run by Scott with 10:10 left in the second quarter for a 7-0 edge.

Skyline fumbled on its next possession and it was the Wildcats turn to take advantage.

On third-and-9 from the Skyline 27-yard line, Warren County freshman quarterback Bryce Post connected with Ben Vogt for a touchdown pass with 6:25 left in the first half. Dodson ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-7 lead.

“It was a fade, a normal fade,” Vogt said. “Bryce threw a good ball.”

The Wildcats added a field goal after another catch by Vogt. On first-and-10 from the Warren County 19-yard line, Post threw a ball up for grabs. Skyline’s Luis Garcia was in perfect position for the interception. However, Vogt came back to the ball and was able to grab it and go 73 yards to the Skyline 8-yard line.

“I saw (Garcia) come back for it, but I came back and made the play,” Vogt said.

The Wildcats settled for a 31-yard field goal by Stuart Ashley with 14 seconds left in the first half for an 11-7 lead.

On the first drive of the second half, it was again Post and Vogt who made the plays. Vogt caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Post to give the Wildcats an 18-7 lead with 11:04 left in the third quarter.

“There were a couple plays that I called that after I called them, I was like ‘that was a stupid call,'” Bush said. “And then Ben Vogt bailed me out. He made a couple great catches.”

The Wildcats finally scored on one of their big runs on their next possession. Jacob Good ran down the right sidelines for a 63-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 25-7 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

While Warren County was finding success in the run game, the Hawks struggled throughout the game.

Skyline ran for 28 yards on 29 carries.

“We weren’t able to run the ball,” Skyline coach Heath Gilbert said. “The biggest difference from last week’s game to this week’s was their defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage.”

The Hawks put together a solid drive, mostly through the air, to cut into the lead late in the third quarter. The Hawks went 62 yards on seven plays, including three pass completions. Skyline running back Quentin Diggs scored on a 2-yard run to cut the lead to 25-14 with 42 seconds left in the third quarter.

However, Warren County came right back with a 56-yard, six-play drive. Dodson, who finished with 114 yards on 29 carries, had his longest run of the night on a 12-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach.

Post was 4-for-10 passing for 169 yards. All four of his completions were to Vogt.

“He’s a freshman and I know not many people have faith in him, but I always did,” Vogt said of Post. “And throughout practices we’ve been growing our connection and connected in the game really well.”

Scott threw for 205 yards on 13-for-26 passing to lead the Hawks. Rutherford had four catches for 102 yards.

Gilbert said he was very happy with the effort his players gave throughout the season.

The second-seeded Wildcats host third-seeded James Monroe in next week’s Region 3B semifinals.

Vogt said the team is excited to keep the season going.

“It ain’t no feeling like it,” Vogt said of the playoff win. “I love it. It’s awesome. I can’t wait for more.”