Wildcats force 6 turnovers in season home opener

Woodland sinks Vikings 55-6

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Even Woodland High head coach Tony Plott was surprised just how badly his team trounced East Hall in their dominant 55-6 home win Friday night. 

"You could see, they were big and athletic, and we expected to be in a dog fight today," he said.

Instead, the Wildcats found themselves in a non-competitive throttling, as the now 2-0 squad easily overwhelmed a now 0-3 East Hall team. 

Woodland struck first, with freshman Quentin Burgs rushing seven yards to make it 6-0 Wildcats. Following a successful 2-point conversion, senior cornerback Jaylen Ballard intercepted the Vikings, which set junior halfback Demarcus Williams up to score from seven yards out. A successful extra point kick gave Woodland a 15-0 edge with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

After senior linebacker Reed Findley recovered an East Hall fumble, sophomore quarterback Jakob Foss ultimately scrambled eight yards to pay dirt to make it a 23-0 lead with just seconds to go in the first quarter.

An interception by senior safety Titus Jones quickly gave Woodland possession early in the second quarter. Senior kicker Ronny Ramirez missed on a 44-yard field goal attempt, but it wasn't long before the Wildcats' offense was back on the field. On his first carry of the game, sophomore running back Jimmy Davis broke off a 24-yard touchdown run.

Then,  after senior Landon Bennett recovered a fumble, Davis once again carried the pigskin — the result this time was a 37-yard touchdown.

Senior linebacker Seth Johnson would rattle off a roughly 50-yard interception return for a touchdown with about three minutes remaining in the quarter, and the Wildcats headed into halftime with a 42-0 lead.

"Our back-seven are as good as it comes, I think," Plott said of the turnovers and overall defensive performance. "Two inside linebackers, outside linebackers, our secondary are really good and our defensive line is starting to catch up with them. Once they get caught up, I think we'll be really good on defense."

The Wildcats mostly stuck to pounding the rock in the second half — in fact, Woodland wouldn't even attempt a single pass for the rest of the game. Davis would notch up a 26-yard touchdown rush with 8:40 to go in the third to make it 48-0, with the Vikings scoring their first — and only — touchdown of the game on their ensuing possession.

The East Hall success would be short-lived, though. With 1:48 to go in the quarter, Burgs ripped off his second rushing TD of the game — from 37 yards out — to give Woodland a 55-6 lead.

The fourth quarter saw neither team put any points on the board. Senior Kyjuan McLendon, however, did haul in another interception for the Wildcats, thus giving Woodland a total of six turnovers to conclude the contest.

Foss finished the game 3-of-6 passing with one 8-yard rushing touchdown. He had about 75 yards passing, no touchdowns and was sacked once.

Burgs wrapped up the game with 59 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Senior fullback Justice Carter had about 34 yards on seven touches, while junior Dawson Wilkins finished the outing with 46 yards on four rushes.

But it was Davis who led the pack for the Wildcats, accumulating about 87 yards — and with them, three visits to the end zone — on the ground.

"I went in with some problems with my hamstring during the week, and I pulled it off," he said. "My teammates helped me out, they got the hole open and three touchdowns? It's a good game." 

The Wildcats will travel to Doug Cochran Stadium Sept. 7 for their next game — a cross-county clash with 1-1 Cass High. 

Plott said he looks to carry over the Wildcats' successful rushing attack strategy against the Colonels Friday.

"Cass is so much improved from what they were last year," he said. "We're expecting it to be a hard-fought game next week, and we're going to prepare like that."