Game of the Week
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Woodbridge's Four Seniors
Photo: Two Laurel defenders send Woodbridge quarterback Jason Rust airborn.
BRIDGEVILLE -- The Woodbridge High School football team didn't have particularly modest goals in 1999 considering it was coming off two 1-9 seasons.
Of the Blue Raiders' 10 preseason goals, head coach John Parker included a Henlopen Conference Southern Division championship and a Division II State Tournament berth.
The Raiders achieved both of those goals on Friday, Nov. 12, 1999, with an improbable 21-20 overtime victory over a Laurel team that came within a half-yard of ruining the Raiders' unbeaten season.
Woodbridge, now 5-0 in the South and 9-0 overall, didn't win the game and clinch its first division title and state tournament berth until placekicker Ben Passwaters' extra point kick, following a 4-yard touchdown run by Corey Sanders, sailed straight through the uprights in overtime.
Laurel, which dominated the second half with an offensive line that overpowered a Woodbridge defense that had seven shutouts entering the game, was eliminated from the South title race.
Seven penalties, three lost fumbles and an interception did in the Bulldogs as they fell to 4-2 in the South and 4-5 overall. They also lost starting quarterback Shawn Phillips to an elbow injury in the first half but backup Robbie Macklin filled in admirably.
In overtime, the Bulldogs scored on a 6-yard run by running back Titus Mims -- who scored Laurel's first touchdown in the third period on a 78-yard run -- for a 20-14 lead.
Laurel head coach Paul Kmetz said he deferred to his players on the extra point and attempted a two-point conversion run rather than a kick by normally accurate kicker John Small. Mims was stopped just a half-yard short of the goal line to give the Raiders a chance to win with a touchdown and extra point.
The Raiders did just that, with Sanders bulling in from the 4 on third and goal. Passwaters, who missed an extra point kick following C.J. Pitts' 4-yard touchdown run in the second period, nailed this one right down the middle and set off a wild celebration of long-suffering Woodbridge fans, players and coaches at midfield.
Laurel emerged from the locker room at halftime and after holding Woodbridge on its first possession, shocked the large crowd when Mims (192 yards rushing on 34 carries) swept around left end and raced 78 yards for the score. A personal foul after Mims was in the end zone, though, forced Laurel to attempt an extra point kick from 35 yards out, and Small's kick just missed as it bounced off the cross-bar.
Two more Laurel penalties -- a personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct call -- kept the Blue Raiders' next drive alive. The Raiders rode the penalties down the field until wide receiver Jeremy Maddox split two Laurel defenders on an alley oop pass from quarterback Jason Rust in the end zone. Rust then hit Pitts with the two-point conversion pass to make it 14-6 Woodbridge with 4:31 left in the third quarter.
Laurel responded, though, with a time-consuming, 17-play drive that ate up 8 minutes of clock and culminated with fullback Gary Trout's 3-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion pass from Macklin to receiver John Small for a 14-14 tie with 7:55 left in the game.
The teams then traded possessions in regulation, with Laurel mounting a nice drive late in the game to Woodbridge's 28 with 8 seconds left. Two pass attempts in those final 8 seconds of regulation resulted in an incompletion by Macklin and a sack by Woodbridge's Bo McDowell.
The Bulldogs dominated the second half, outgaining Woodbridge 190 yards to 63. Laurel finished with 247 total yards to the Raiders' 125 and 12 first downs to Woodbridge's 8.
8:03 -- WOODBRIDGE (6-0 Woodbridge)
9:53 -- LAUREL (6-6)
4:31 -- WOODBRIDGE (14-6 Woodbridge)
7:55 -- LAUREL (14-14)
LAUREL (20-14 Laurel)
WOODBRIDGE (21-20 Woodbridge)
Woodbridge placekicker Ben Passwaters on the winning extra point kick in overtime:
"At first I was nervous, but deep down, I knew my line would block for me and it would go through. We did it. It finally happened. We've accomplished our goal."
Woodbridge head coach John Parker on the school's first South football title and state tournament berth:
"I'm just elated. You play 48 minutes of football and go to overtime and that's what it's all about. You play a championship game and lay it all on the line. I'd like to think all of that conditioning paid off. It's like a boxer. You train for 15 or 20 rounds, not 12 rounds, so you have a reserve."
Parker on facing a serious test for the first time this season:
"We talk about playing through adversity and not letting stuff beat them down."
Woodbridge fullback Corey Sanders on scoring the tying touchdown on a 4-yard run in overtime:
"I block for C.J. all the time and I could see there was a hole there for me. I told coach I could do it."
Laurel head coach Paul Kmetz on his team's 7 penalties, an interception and 3 lost fumbles:
"We played with a lot of enthusiasm and heart, but we had costly errors with the turnovers and penalties. I've been saying all year that turnovers and penalties will cost you in the big games."
Kmetz on his team's dominating offensive performance in the second half:
"We thought we could do what we did to them."
Kmetz on his team becoming the first to challenge the unbeaten Raiders this season:
"There's no moral victory. These guys ... there's not a man on that bus who didn't think we were going to come here and win a championship."
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