Woodrow tops Riverside, solidifies playoff hopes
Woodrow Wilson senior quarterback Andrew Johnson had seen the scenario in each of the past two years.
His Flying Eagles facing an underdog Riverside team late in the year with a playoff berth hanging in the balance, and twice before Woodrow came up short (although the Eagles still made the playoffs at 5-5 last year).
However, Johnson was not about to let history repeat itself a third time.
Johnson threw his team on his back on Friday, rushing for a pair of touchdowns and throwing for two as the No. 11-ranked Flying Eagles spoiled the Warriors' homecoming with a 36-13 win in Quincy.
Johnson rushed for 99 yards and threw for 99, completing 8 of 12 passes.
"Last year and the year before that when we came up here, they got us," Johnson said. "That kicked us out of the playoffs my 10th-grade year, and if we'd have won that game we'd have been in the playoffs three years in a row because I plan on going this year, too."
Woodrow Wilson (6-3) sure looked like a playoff team the majority of the evening, as it squeezed the Riverside ground game to just 43 yards on 24 carries while churning out 265 rushing yards of its own.
"In the second half we just told them, 'We're going to ride our seniors,'" Woodrow coach John H. Lilly said. "'If you guys want to go to the playoffs, you've got to go out there and win tonight.'"
Early on, it looked like winning would be a given. The Flying Eagles scored on their first two possessions after forcing a pair of three-and-outs.
Marcus Mickey punched it in from 1 yard out to start the scoring and Johnson hit Ramon Edwards for a 17-yard touchdown on fourth-and-9 to end Woodrow's second drive in the first quarter. Woodrow was able to cash in on 2-point conversions on each occasion and the Flying Eagles had a quick 16-0 lead.
Johnson was efficient throughout the first half, completing 4 of 5 passes for 56 yards, and had a 32-yard touchdown pass to Edwards called back on a holding penalty.
Speaking of which, Woodrow went beyond shooting itself in the foot and nearly committed football suicide early on. The Flying Eagles were charged with 10 penalties for 90 yards in the first two quarters and 125 yards on 14 flags for the game.
"I just think everybody was jacked up," Lilly said. "We've played each other forever and it's kind of turned into a little bit of a rivalry game. I think our kids get jacked up for it a little bit."
Woodrow mistakes directly led to Riverside's first score.
After Edwards was charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after a spectacular one-handed catch on Woodrow's second 2-point conversion, the Eagles had to kick off from the 25-yard line and Riverside ended up setting up shop on Woodrow's 45.
Three more Woodrow personal fouls on the ensuing drive resulted in two Riverside first downs, and eventually Aaron Halstead found the end zone from 3 yards out to get the Warriors (1-7) back into the game for the time being.
But Johnson took over in the second half, hitting Cole Williams on an 18-yard touchdown throw in the third quarter and running in from 20 and 17 yards out in the fourth to ice it for Woodrow.
"He's broke every school record that we have, so that speaks volumes," Lilly said of Johnson. "The biggest thing I can say about him is that he's a great kid. On the field, off the field, he's a great kid, I love him to death. He's got a bright future ahead of him. They've had our number for a couple of years and it was real important to us to get it this year."
Riverside dropped its seventh straight game after winning the season opener over St. Albans.
It's been a tough row to hoe for Riverside coach Ralph Hensley and a group of inexperienced players, including quarterback Trevor Rumberg, who had never played the position before this year.
"They made some plays and we didn't make very many," Hensley said. "We kept it close in the first half and we've done that a bunch of times this year. Our guys are still practicing hard and playing hard and we're really proud of that. It's just one of those years where things aren't falling our way."
Halstead found the end zone again in the fourth quarter for Riverside, returning an Edwards fumble 7 yards to bring the score to 30-13 before Johnson's last scoring run.
Edwards added 84 yards rushing on nine carries for the Flying Eagles while Williams had team bests with five receptions and 75 yards.
Marcus Reed hauled in eight passes for 114 yards while Damarrie' Lain caught seven balls for 62 yards for the Warriors. Rumberg finished with 155 yards on 17-of-32 passing.
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