By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
John H. Lilly was quick to give Riverside credit for its intensity, but he knew his team probably should have ran away in the first half.
“I think we had about 100 touchdowns called back because of penalties,” the Woodrow Wilson coach said, obviously using the art of exaggeration to make a point.
The Flying Eagles made the adjustments in the second half, led by quarterback Andrew Johnson, and defeated the Warriors 36-13 Friday night to solidify their spot in the Class AAA playoffs.
Woodrow (6-3) was rated No. 11 going into the night. The win over the Warriors all but assured the Eagles of a spot in the top 16.
They had to get out of their own way to get there.
Things began innocently enough for the Flying Eagles, who scored on their first two possessions to go ahead 16-0 in the first quarter. But it was on a two-point conversion play that things started to get ugly.
After Johnson connected with Ramon Edwards for a 17-yard touchdown pass, the two hooked up again on the two-point play. Edwards leaped in the air and made a one-handed grab along the left edge of the end zone.
As soon as he came down, the Eagles were flagged for a personal foul that was assessed on the ensuing kickoff.
The Warriors were able to take advantage when Woodrow squib kicked from the 20.
A drive that started at Woodrow’s 45-yard line was aided by three personal foul penalties against the Eagles. The series ended on Aaron Halstead’s 3-yard run that made it 16-6 late in the first quarter.
Woodrow was called for 10 penalties that cost them 90 yards — in the first half.
“I just think everybody was jacked up,” Lilly said. “We have played each other forever and it’s kind of turning into a little bit of a rival game. We knew we had to come down and play hard. We knew that it was (Riverside’s) homecoming and they were doing a blackout. We knew it was going to be a tough, hard fought game.”
“The second half, our coaches told us that if we really want it, we’re going to have to keep our mouths shut,” Johnson said. “You can’t trash talk, because they are going to call penalties on us. My team stepped up to that challenge.”
They did so with ball control. The Eagles scored on three of their first four possessions, the second of which went 14 plays and 93 yards in just under eight minutes. It ended with Johnson’s 20-yard touchdown run that made it 30-6.
Johnson added a 17-yard TD later in the fourth. He ran 16 times for 99 yards and was 9 of 12 passing for 108 yards.
Woodrow will close out its regular season next Friday with a game against Capital at Laidley Field in Charleston. The Cougars upset No. 4 George Washington 35-13.
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Woodrow Wilson 36, Riverside 13
WW (6-3) 16 0 8 12 — 36
R (1-7) 6 0 0 7 — 13
WW: Marcus Mickey 1 run (Andrew Johnson run), 8:11.
WW: Ramon Edwards 17 pass from Johnson (Edwards pass from Johnson), 4:45.
R: Aaron Halstead 3 run (run failed), :28.5.
WW: Cole Williams 17 pass from Johnson (Johnson run), 8:40.
WW: Johnson 20 run (run failed), 7:52.
R: Halstead 7 fumble return (Derrick Chestnut kick), 5:39.
WW: Johnson 17 run (run failed), 3:41.
RUSHING — WW: Johnson 16-99, Edwards 11-90, Williams 9-55, Brent Osborne 7-23, Mickey 2-2. R: William Jackson 7-39, Dameria Lain 8-14, Halstead 2-4, Trevor Rumberg 6-3, Austin Simmons 1-1, Justin Burke 1-0, Tyler Coleman 1-(-3).
PASSING — WW: Johnson 9-12-0-108. R: Rumberg 17-33-1-192.
RECEIVING — WW: Williams 4-56, Edwards 4-54, Donte Nabors 1-(-2). R: Marcus Reed 8-113, Lain 6-60, Matt Allen 2-14, Tim Womack 1-5.
TURNOVERS — WW: Jacob Meadows (INT). R: Halstead (FR).