By Dave Morrison
For the Saturday Gazette-Mail
BECKLEY - For the all the offensive explosions in the Hurricane-Woodrow Wilson game Friday night at Flying Eagles Stadium, it came down to the defense at the end.
And Woodrow Wilson's Anthony Hosea made sure he was the man to get the job done.
Hosea had two sacks on Hurricane quarterback Austin Hensley on the Redskins' last two drives as Woodrow Wilson escaped with a 35-34 win.
Woodrow Wilson (3-0) overcame a 27-13 halftime deficit, the final score a 6-yard pass from Andrew Johnson to Jacob Meadows and a subsequent 2-point conversion run by Johnson with 5:19 remaining.
That's when Woodrow Wilson's defense, absent most of the game, came to the fore, led by Hosea.
First, he sacked Hensley for a 5-yard loss, a play that eventually forced Hurricane to punt.
After Hurricane got the ball back, Hosea again sacked Hensley on second-and-5, and Woodrow Wilson was able to get the ball back on downs and end the game.
"My coaches needed me and my team needed me," Hosea said. "I noticed their guard was getting tired late in the game and I just pushed my way into the backfield. They pretty much had their way with us for a long time, and once we got the lead back, we knew it was on the defense to end it."
Down 27-13 at the break, the Flying Eagles fought back, Johnson hooking up twice with Cole Williams on touchdowns of 10 and 51 yards to tie the score at 27.
"That's just good senior leadership," Woodrow Wilson coach John H. Lilly said. "They pretty much pushed us around in the first half, but our kids never quit. We showed some resiliency and Andrew showed a lot of leadership in bringing us back. I thought we played well as a team."
Hurricane, behind Hensley, who was 23 of 33 passing for 246 yards and four touchdowns, wasn't done just yet.
Hensley hooked up with Zach Pate on a 12-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to give the Redskins a 34-27 lead.
Woodrow battled back. Johnson and Williams hooked up for what appeared to be a potential game-tying touchdown but Williams was whistled for offensive pass interference.
On fourth-and-20, Johnson, who threw for 144 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 95 yards, broke off a 33-yard run on a draw play to set up the game-winning touchdown pass.
"That was a gutsy draw play on fourth-and-long," Hurricane coach Jeremy Taylor said. "They just have so many athletes and they made plays. We made too many mental mistakes. They made some defensive adjustments and we should have gone back to some of the things that worked in the first half. That's my fault. It was a tough loss, but we have a lot of football left."
Hurricane was nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring on four straight possessions to seemingly take control.
Hensley threw a touchdown pass of 37 yards to Stephen Handley, set up by an interception by Zach Fitzsimmons.
Woodrow tied the score when Johnson and Ramon Edwards hooked up from 26 yards out.
Jeremy Francis then put Hurricane up with an 11-yard touchdown run. Hurricane then capitalized on a Woodrow fumble when Hensley and Koi Turner connected from 12 yards out.
Woodrow cut it to 21-13 on an 11-yard run by Chase Hancock, who later left the game and did not return.
But Hensley and Pate connected from 28 yards late in the half to take a 27-13 lead at the break.
"It's a big win, but we have a long way to go," Hosea said. "Every game is a different challenge but it feels good to get this one."
Woodrow had 371 yards of total offense, while Hurricane had 365.
Woodrow Wilson is at Spring Valley next week while Hurricane will visit George Washington.