September 10, 2011
Sherwood Warriors 17- Blake Bengals 10
The Sherwood faithful greeted Mike Bonavia to Caruso Memorial Stadium for his first home game as the Warriors’ head coach and although the pre-kick pageantry signaled a sign of welcoming for the long-time Al Thomas assistant, mummers circulated through the crowd by halftime when the over-dog Warriors (1-1) trailed the Blake Bengals (1-1) 7-3.
But after a rousing Bonavia halftime speech, Sherwood responded and edged Blake in a down-to-the-wire thriller in Sandy Spring.
“It was quite an adventure and we had some help from Blake to get that win, but these guys gutted it out,” he said. “They played much better in the second half. They had to or they were going to kick our butt. I got to give them props for their second effort. They put pressure on their offense and made fewer mistakes.”
The Warriors put together a methodical, 11-play, 73-yard drive to open the third quarter spurred by a 14-yard Eric Williams toe tapping catch on Blake sideline to move the chains on a drive that otherwise would have stalled. Eight plays and 66 yards later DeMatha transfer Moses Vine took a Jordan Larsen handoff up the middle for nine yards shrugging off six tackles on his way to pay dirt.
“Momentum is really big for our team,” said Williams. “Negative plays can drag us down a lot … but big plays like that catch can really help us and turn the tables.”
After a botched extra point attempt the lead see-sawed back to Blake as the Bengals mounted their own 66-yard drive capped off by Julian Carr’s (who also starts at quarterback) 28-yard field goal, giving them a 10-9 lead.
But another big play excited the Sherwood offense as Fernando Smith took the ensuing kickoff and dashed 80 yards up the Sherwood sideline, finally brought down at the Paint Branch two. After the Warriors were penalized five yards for a false start, Fitz Mofor (39 yards, seven carries, touchdown) took a pitch left and won the race to the pylon and did the same thing on the two-point conversion attempt.
“There were some primetime plays made tonight by some primetime players,” said Bonavia. “Those are the guys that change the game and tonight helped us pull out a win.”
Blake got the ball back with plenty of time to mount a comeback and drove to the Sherwood 17 yard line before Sherwood’s Mark Sherman dragged Carr down in the backfield for a six-yard loss on fourth down, handing the ball back over to the Sherwood offense.
Sherman was incredible in the fourth quarter for the Warriors. The two-way starter sat out most of the second and third quarters due to cramps, but when he return notched two sacks and forced a fumble in the game’s waning moments.
With a minute remaining, Sherwood punted the ball back to the Bengals who began a drive to snatch victory from within the Warriors’ grasp. They advanced to the Warrior 34 yard line, but the drive halted there as Smith came free off the left side and strip-sacked Carr as Sherman pounced on the loose football. Two Larsen knees later, the game was in the books.
“Something just came alive in me [during the fourth quarter],” he said. “That’s why you work the whole offseason, to have it inside you. All the boys on defense just stepped it up.”
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