The Thomas S. Wootton High football team broke in its new field turf with a one heck of a workout on Friday night.
A 43-20 conquest of Montgomery County 4A South Division rival Walt Whitman reflected an immediate comfort with their new playing surface, and a continued comfort of working together on both sides of the football to help achieve maximum results.
“We’ve been waiting all summer long to finally play on this,” said junior quarterback Sam Ellis, who dominated the Vikings’ defense, completing 27 out of 42 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns with just one interception. “I really do like this turf, especially since we can practice on it all of the time.”
Teammate Jibril Woods concurred.
“I definitely prefer this surface over natural grass. Being able to make those cuts. Being able to trust that you won’t slip and fall. It’s just an overall better surface to run on than grass.”
The Vikings seemed to enjoy the new surface as well early on, staking their way to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a Zac Morton 4-yard plunge, and tying the contest at 14 early in the second quarter on an 85-yard catch and run by fellow senior Nicholas Newsham. Prior to Newsham’s score, Bryan Castillo had tied the game, 7-7, on a 2-yard run. And sophomore Trevon Diggs notched his first touchdown of the game on an 83-yard fumble recovery.
Woods gave his team a 20-14 lead, which it would not relinquish, on a 10-yard reception from with 7 minutes, 14 seconds left in the second quarter. The Pats then took advantage of fumble recovery by Grant Ibeh, as Diggs caught a 21-yard strike for a score from Ellis to give Wootton a 27-14 cushion.
Whitman (2-2 overall, 1-1) refused to give up, and on the ensuing possession, used a 10-play drive to pull within 27-20 on Morton’s 5-yard run with 50 seconds left before the half. Morton, who finished the game with 176 yards rushing on 25 carries, had the ball eight out of those 10 plays for 56 yards.
“We come into every game trying to score 50 points,” said Woods, who caught eight passes for 82 yards and rushed for another 32 yards on four attempts. “We want to put points on the board and shut the other team down. Adversity is going to hit you, so we feel like the good teams are the ones who can bounce back.”
The Patriots (3-1, 3-1) marched back down the field and added a score at the end of the half, a 40-yard field goal from standout senior Eric Schumacher.
Ellis tossed two more touchdowns in the second half to finish the game with four. He hit woods with a 12-yarder with 8:46 left in the third quarter, and salted the game away late in the fourth quarter on a 71-yard bomb to Kwame Frimpong down the left sideline to give the Pats their final margin of victory.
“We started off a bit slow,” said Diggs, who caught 11 passes for 109 yards. “I think that fumble [return] for the touchdown really gave us a spark. It really helped us out a lot. We were trying to test them out and see how they were going to compete with us. They competed with us very well but we stuck it out.”
While Whitman coach Jim Kuhn was generous with his praise of the Patriots, he also noted that his team’ miscues did not help matters.
“We made too many mistakes to beat a good team like that,” Kuhn said. “We turned the ball over, they got 14 points off of turnovers. We gave up a touchdown on a fourth-and-17, we got a penalty in key situations, we just can’t make mistakes like that.
“It’s tough to contain a team like that. You commit to the pass, the run is going to hurt you, and if you commit to the run, the pass is going to hurt you. They are a very good, balanced offensive team. And I give them full credit, they did a great job against us tonight.”
Thomas S. Wootton 43, Walt Whitman 20
Whitman 7 13 0 0 — 20
Wootton 7 23 6 7 — 43
WW — Zac Morton 4 yard run (Zachary Snyder kick)
TSW — Bryan Castillo 2 run (Eric Schumacher kick)
TSW — Trevon Diggs 83 yard fumble return (Eric Schumacher kick)
WW — Nicholas Newsham 85 pass from Evan Smith (Zachary Snyder kick)
TSW — Jibri Woods 10 pass from Sam Ellis (kick blocked)
TSW — Trevon Diggs21 pass from Sam Ellis (Eric Schumacher kick)
WW — Zac Morton 5 run (kick failed)
TSW — Eric Schumacher 40 yard FG
TSW — Jibri Woods 12 pass from Sam Ellis (pass failed)
TSW — Kwame Frimpong 71 pass from Sam Ellis (Eric Schumacher kick)
Walt Whitman — Zac Morton 25-176, Jason Pittsenberger 7-40, Nicholas Newsham 2-4.
Thomas S. Wootton — Jake Koplan 8-48, Jibri Woods 4-32, Bryan Castillo 6-45, Sam Ellis 6-11.
Walt Whitman — Evan Smith 5-13, 130-1.
Thomas S. Wootton — Sam Ellis 27-42, 333-1.
Walt Whitman — Nicolas Newsham 2-97, Zac Morton 2-27, Nabil Ibrahim 1-6.
Thomas S. Wootton — Jibri Woods 8-82, Trevon Diggs 11-109, Jack Pykosh 3-23, Kwame Frimpong 2-75, Max Etoke 2-24, Jake Koplan 1-24.