Senior running back Moses Vines and his Sherwood High School teammates knew that they had to attempt to keep possession of the football during Friday’s game at Northwest.
Vines didn’t mind being a part of the mission to lead a ground attack that helped the Warriors clinch a spot in the Class 4A North Region playoffs with a 35-28 victory over the Jaguars. In fact, he was downright happy about it.
Vines rushed for a game-high 176 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, including the clinching score with 57 seconds left in the third quarter. Fellow senior Jordan Larsen passed for 198 yards and two touchdowns to help keep the Northwest defense at bay.
“We had to control the clock because they’re a good team,” said Vines. “They can throw the ball — you saw how they were moving up and down the field on us — but we had to slow the game down so they could slow down and we could run our stuff and the things that we do. I’m happy about [the carries] I got [today]. I need more carries, but I am excited with the carries I got today.”
Junior Elijah Spottswood ran the opening kick 84 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown to help the visitors. After a failed fake punt by Northwest, Larsen hit Ryan Warren with a 32-yard touchdown strike to temporarily stun the hosts with a 14-0 lead just 2 minutes, 34 seconds into the contest.
The Jaguars (6-3) countered with a quick nine-play drive that culminated with a 22-yard pass from senior quarterback Matty Callahan to senior receiver Josh McDonald. (five catches, 141 yards). Two minutes later after a stalled Sherwood drive, McDonald struck again with an 83-yard scoring toss from Callahan (20-of-48, 303 yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions). Tommy Beard’s second of four extra point kicks tied the game at 14.
“We started to make a couple of mistakes and we started to lose focus,” said Vines. “We got a little too happy after we got up by a little bit. And then we calmed down. Got some breaks going our way. The blocking came together, the running game came together.”
The second quarter featured more fireworks as both teams reached the end zone twice. Vines rumbled in from 13 yards, but Northwest responded with a 4-yard touchdown catch by senior Byron Johnson. The Warriors (7-2) retook the lead with a 71-yard catch and run by Brandon Loiacono and Tyler Ambush returned the favor with a 33-yard scoring reception.
“This team never gives up,” said Northwest coach Mike Neubeiser. “Sherwood’s a very talented team. They just made more plays than we did. They won by the big play. It felt like we were moving the chains — we were doing pretty well for the most part — but we made some really bad miscues on our special teams, which killed us. ... Overall I thought we played well.”
Northwest had a couple of chances to tie the game in the last two minutes, however, senior defensive back Donte Thomas (two interceptions) and classmate Malaki Roy hauled in successive interceptions. Roy’s sealed the game with 38 seconds remaining. Fellow senior defensive back Richie Dipietro also picked off a Callahan pass, returning it 40 yards.
“I think they had really good coverage and they had good pressure up front, which threw [Callahan] off a little bit,” Neubeiser said. “I think that was the primary cause [of the interceptions].”
The Jaguars, who were in second place in the 4A West Region prior to Friday’s game, can clinch a playoff berth with a victory at Richard Montgomery next Friday.
“We’ll be fired up [for Richard Montgomery]. They’re a motivated group,” Neubeiser said. “They were fired up for tonight. We’ve just got to make less mistakes.”
Sherwood 35, Northwest 28
Sherwood (7-2) 14 14 7 0 — 35
Northwest (6-3) 14 14 0 0 — 28
S — Elijah Spottswood 84 kick return (Jake Ryder kick)
S — Ryan Warren 32 pass from Jordan Larsen (Jake Ryder kick)
N — Josh McDonald 22 pass from Matty Callahan (Tommy Beard kick)
N — Josh McDonald 83 pass from Matty Callahan (Tommy Beard kick)
S — Moses Vines 13 run (Jake Ryder)
N — Byron Johnson 4 pass from Matty Callahan (Tommy Beard kick)
S — Brandon Loiacono 71 pass from Jordan Larsen (Jake Ryder kick)
N — Tyler Ambush 32 pass from Matty Callahan (Tommy Beard kick)
S — Moses Vines 4 run (Jake Ryder kick)
Sherwood — Moses Vines 24-176; Jordan Larsen 8-27.
Northwest — Joshua Gillis 19-61; Byron Johnson 3-53.
Sherwood — Jordan Larsen 7-15 198-0.
Poolesville — Matty Callahan 20-48-303-4.
Sherwood — Brandon Loiacono 3-108; Ryan Warren 3-64; Jordan Johnson 1-26.
Northwest — Josh McDonald 5-143; Joshua Gillis 5-17; Tyler Ambush 3-54; Ryan Markush 3-38; Byron Johnson 3-20; Connor Allen 2-31.