Two struggling young high school football offenses met Friday night when Walter Johnson High School visited Col. Zadok Magruder. Both continued to struggle, and then some.
On the strength of two first-half safeties and some staunch defense, Magruder defeated the Wildcats, 4-2.
“We left a lot points on the field,” Magruder coach Kevin Bernot said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes, fumbles, interceptions. That's stuff we've got to correct.”
The Wildcats (1-4) actually put together the game's best drive in the final 1:42, going from their own 29 down to the Magruder 19, but Mark Murtha's 36-yard field goal attempt with 21 seconds left was short.
“Probably a little outside his range,” Wildcats coach Jon Kadi said.
Leading 4-0 midway through the fourth quarter and facing fourth and 19 from the 1-yard line, the Colonels (1-4) gave up the safety in exchange for the free kick from the 20.
It paid off as Walter Johnson drove to the 16 before Murtha missed from 33 yards out.
In addition to the missed kicks, twice in the second half the Wildcats drove inside the Colonels 10 and came away without points.
“We're young. We have to get better. We have to execute when we have the opportunity,” Kadi said. “We've got eight or nine new starters on offense, 17 new starters across the board. These kids haven't played a whole lot of football.”
The Wildcats were whistled for 10 penalties, including a holding penalty that nullified a 30-yard touchdown run by Greg Battle in the third quarter.
Walter Johnson still managed to get a first down and goal on the 7-yard line. The drive ended, thanks to consecutive penalties, on an incomplete pass on fourth and goal at the 16.
Late in the third quarter the Wildcats recovered a Bryan Juarez fumble at the 21. An 11-yard pass from Victor Riverio to Jahziel Biscoe made it first and goal from the 9, but they couldn't score.
In the first half, Magruder showed some offense, twice driving inside the Wildcat 30 before losing fumbles.
After intermission however, the Colonels didn't manage a first down.
“Our (offensive) line needs to power off the ball,” Bernot said. “We've got to get that aggressive mentality. We've got good size on our line, we've just got to get them to fire off and move people around.”
The Wildcats started their first possession on the 29 and on third and 29 from the 10, Riverio fumbled and a Walter Johnson player fell on the ball in the end zone for a safety.
Walter Johnson managed only one first down in the first half and that came on a fake punt.
In the second quarter, Riverio dropped back into his own end zone and completed a pass, but a holding penalty was called in the end zone. At first the officials didn't signal for a safety, as per the rule.
“I had to call a timeout because the refs called hold and they weren't going to call the safety,” Bernot said. “Then they finally called the safety, but I didn't get my timeout back.”
Magruder 4 Walter Johnson 2
Walter Johnson (1-4) 0 0 0 0 – 2
Magruder (1-4) 2 2 0 0 - 4
M – Safety. Riverio fumbles, ball recovered by Walter Johnson in end zone.
M – Safety. Holding penalty called on Walter Johnson in end zone.
WJ – Safety. Punter Juarez steps out of back of end zone.
Walter Johnson – Trent Moore 8-28, Greg Battle 7-23, Victor Riverio 9-15, Tyler Fields 1-10.
Magruder – Bryan Juarez 15-82, Brent Martin 9-12, Jimmy Samai 2-8, Jesse Wood 2-(-8).
Walter Johnson – Victor Riverio 7-18-86.
Magruder – Jesse Wood 2-5-22.
Walter Johnson – Jahziel Biscoe 4-41, Christian Campbell 2-48, Greg Battle 1-(-3).
Magruder – Lynnell Willingham 1-12, Bryan Juarez 1-10.