WOODBERRY — After playing second fiddle to the defense for the past month, the Woodberry Forest offense finally got a chance to shine.
The Tigers got two quick touchdowns in the second quarter to erase a halftime deficit and held on for a 21-14 victory over defending VISAA Division I champion Collegiate. Three Woodberry players ran for at least 50 yards and quarterbacks Heys McMath and Jacob Rainey threw a touchdown pass apiece as the Tigers remained perfect in Prep League play.
Collegiate (3-2, 0-1 Prep) used a stifling defense and a razor-sharp short passing attack to go into the half with a 7-0 lead, which lasted all of 17 seconds into the third quarter. After a strong C.J. Prosise kick return and a Cougars penalty gave Woodberry (4-1, 2-0) great field position, McMath found Joe Miller for a 36-yard touchdown pass off a play-action fake to tie the score.
“The tight end was definitely open, but Joe had a lead on the guy,” McMath said. “… He’s good at just sneaking by.”
Disaster struck for the Cougars on their second play of the ensuing drive when wide receiver Doug Randolph fumbled and Tigers linebacker Nate Ripper recovered. This time, it took the Tigers two plays to score as Hunter Faulconer bounced outside for a 23-yard touchdown run.
“They did some stuff in the first half that we didn’t see, ever, from them,” said Woodberry coach Clint Alexander. “We had to fix some things at halftime and our defense did better.”
The Tigers added to their lead four minutes later when Rainey found Reid Swearingen in the end zone for a 25-yard score and a 21-7 lead.
“I think everybody knows he’s the runner,” Alexander said of Rainey, who completed both of his passing attempts for 50 yards. “They’ve watched film. They were crowding the box. But he throws the ball well … Rainey’s the total package.”
Collegiate struck back midway through the fourth quarter on a 62-yard pass from Wilton Speight to Tyler Holly, then got the ball back on its own 23 with 2:55 remaining and a chance to tie.
Speight led the Cougars into Woodberry territory, but couldn’t connect on two deep balls, and the Tigers’ defense had one big play left. With 1:30 left, his pass went off Tyler Kemeny’s hands and was intercepted by Woodberry’s Adam Silva to end the final threat.
“You have opportunities,” said Collegiate coach Mark Palyo. “We have people who were open. We have to hit them. They have to catch the ball when it’s there. You can’t turn the ball over.”
The diminutive Faulconer led the Tigers with 105 yards on 15 carries. Rue Hockensmith ran for 59 yards and Jeff Smith tallied 52.
Speight scored Collegiate’s first touchdown on a five-yard run and passed for 272 yards, but had three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble that ended the Cougars’ first drive deep in Tigers territory.
“They changed up some coverages, and that makes it tough,” Palyo said, “especially when you have a young quarterback. But I thought he did a fine job for us today.”
Woodberry returns to action on the road against Landon on Oct. 15.