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September 8, 2013
Wolverines Outlast Crabbers in Epic Shootout: In what can undoubtedly be described as one of the wildest high-scoring affairs in Hampton Roads High School Football history, the Woodside Wolverines prevailed over the Hampton Crabbers by a count of 65-44 on Saturday afternoon at John B. Todd Stadium in Newport News. To go with triple-digits in points, the two Peninsula District teams combined for 1056 total yards of offense and 49 first downs.
"I'm just glad it's over. I didn't think it was going to ever end," quipped Woodside Head Football Coach Danny Dodson afterwards. "We got up and thought we were going to be able to run the clock out. Every time we did, we scored, gave them the ball back and they scored. The way it started out, it felt like whoever had the ball last was going to win. I never thought we'd end up in a shoot-out like this. It was a long game."
Woodside, which didn't punt all afternoon long, moved to 2-0 overall. The Wolverines scored their second most points ever, behind only the 67 they exploded for in 2009 against Bethel.
For Hampton, it was the highest amount of points ever allowed by the Crabbers in any game. That goes back to the 1800's, accounting for more than 1100 games in their illustrious history that has seen the program capture the most state titles in VHSL history.
"We just kept getting points on the scoreboard. I couldn't stop it," said Woodside senior QB/DB Darius Howell, who had four rushing touchdowns and passed for another TD. "I enjoyed every second of it and that was very memorable. I feel like a lot of eyes are being opened and people are realizing Woodside not the team that we were last year."
On each of their first two possessions, the Wolverines scored and marched 60-plus yards, capped with touchdowns from seniors JayQuan Lassiter and Trey Reed. They opened the game with sophomore L.J. Taylor playing quarterback before inserting Howell.
Hampton would make an interception in the end zone to end Woodside's third series, and the Crabbers would punch ahead, 20-15 with 4:57 to go. In the first half alone, Hampton racked up 287 total yards of their 514. But Woodside's offense simply did whatever it wanted, primarily on the ground.
The Wolverines rolled up 542 total yards on the day with 443 rushing yards on 53 attempts. During the second half, Woodside ran for 305 yards on 29 carries, an average of 10.5 yards per rush. To put that in perspective, Hampton didn't allow that many yards rushing on the season last year until game six in October. In fact, the most they allowed rushing in all of 2012 was 191 to Phoebus.
Woodside would go from being behind in the second quarter to scoring 36 unanswered points and increasing its lead to as many as 31 with 6:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. Seemingly everyone that touched the ball found success for the Wolverines.
"I didn't start the game, but when I came in I had the intensity that we were not going to lose this game," Howell added. "I just got behind my offensive line and we kept going down the field with a positive attitude. I feel like they're going to have to do something to stop us because we have a lot of people can that can do a lot of good things for the team."
In just his second varsity start at quarterback, Quillen completed 15 of 28 passes for 354 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception to go with 86 yards rushing and a couple of scores on 15 attempts. At one point, he started 7-for-7 before cooling off a bit, but in a span of four quarters, he piled up 440 total yards and 5TD's, all this while starting in the secondary on defense.
Quillen's main target through the air, junior Tyquon Wilkins, is a player that fans and college recruiters ought to get familiar with now. Wilkins hauled in eight passes for 234 yards, easily a career-high, and two touchdowns, plus ran for a score. Not to mention, he played defense as well and recorded seven tackles and an interception.
So remarkably, Hampton's quarterback finished with 440 total yards and 5TD's, and they had a receiver accumulate nearly 250 yards of offense and 3TD's, yet they lost . . . by 21.
Those two have at least eight regular season games remaining this season, plus both will be back next year.
From their own 32-yard line on fourth-and-1, Hampton went to a four-wide set and Howell came through with a tackle for loss on Quillen. The Crabbers went there-and-out their next possession.
Part of Woodside's improvement in the third quarter in holding Hampton to a mere 12 in the quarter can be attributed to putting sophomore L.J. Taylor back at safety, providing help over top on deep pass patterns.
"In the first half, we were trying to smother them going man-to-man, got confused on who was supposed to be where and got beat deep a few times. In the second half, we decided to go back to three-deep and don't let them beat us deep," noted Dodson.
"Of course, that still didn't work out in places, but that one stretch it did. We didn't stop them very often. Any time we could stop them was a momentum swing."
By the time Hampton revved up its passing attack and made their adjustment, it was too late. And the Crabbers, playing a bevy of underclassmen on the defensive side of the ball, never could solve Woodside's offense and overpowering ground game.
"Ideally, that's how were set up for this offense. That's the way it's always been," Dodson said. "Occasionally, we've had a guy who was more of a one-man show, but in general, we've been a four back offense as long as I've been here. That's the strategy behind it, and when you've got good players to go along with it that sure makes it easier."
Credit must also go to the Woodside line of senior Terrance Jones, juniors Jayson Davidson, Tyler Blackwell and Sal Malamala, and sophomore Shane Westfall.
Freshman running back Tamir Walker, who is the younger brother of ex-Wolverines ball carrier Tyris Walker, had himself quite a fourth quarter. On just three touches, Walker ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns. But oh wait, there's more.
Gary Ruckman, a junior tight end, was instrumental in Woodside's passing game keeping the defense honest by hauling in four receptions for 46 yards. His brothers made their mark as well. Michael Ruckman was a receiver/tight end, while Andy and Nathan Ruckman were both linemen for Woodside.
Watch out for Ethan Ruckman, a ninth grader who could develop into a bigger lineman overall than the previous ones.
"It's been nice, I tell you," Dodson admitted. "The Ruckman's, that's the fourth one we've had and he had a lot of big catches today."
Matthew Hatfield has covered football and basketball since 2004 for VirginiaPreps.com, part of the Rivals.com Network. Check out Hatfield's Twitter page for more sports related updates, and you can also read his work in the Suffolk News Herald. To contact Matthew, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and don't forget to listen to him every Saturday at 10AM on ESPN Radio 94.1, plus watch him on the Cox 11 Sports Report.