Woodward Academy upset No. 6 St. Pius 42-28 Friday night, and the War Eagles changed the story line significantly from one year to the next as senior quarterback Terry Googer strafed the Golden Lions.
This one didn’t look like an upset.
Googer, a South Carolina commit, rushed 23 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another 165 yard and a score as the War Eagles raced up and down the field at St. Pius on the way to 471 yards of total offense.
Last season, the War Eagles (6-2, 4-1 Region 6-AAA) edged St. Pius 20-14 on a night when the Golden Lions (6-2, 3-1) lost five turnovers, including a controversial goal line fumble that triggered Woodward Academy’s late game-winning drive.
There was little room for misinterpretation Friday following a game that left Region 6-AAA in a four-way virtual tie.
After the War Eagles failed on fourth down on their first possession, they scored touchdowns on six of their next eight possessions before kneeling at the end. One of those miscues was Googer’s lone mistake, an interception thrown on a deep ball in the waning seconds of the first half. The other was Woodward’s lone punt.
The War Eagles and their fans were not happy last season after suggestions that they were lucky against the Golden Lions.
Head coach John Hunt made it clear when he addressed his squad shortly after the game.
“This game wasn’t marred by turnovers; they had one and we had one,” he told players. “The bottom line was, we came to their house and [won the game]!”
The game looked different at the start than the way it finished.
The Golden Lions took a 7-0 lead with relative ease as quarterback Joey Connors ran 30 yards for the the game’s first score. Then, Googer threw incomplete on fourth-and-five to blunt Woodward’s first drive.
There, however, the visitors’ flummoxed St. Pius on consecutive drives while dropping the Golden Lions for lost yardage on five plays.
In between those possessions, St. Pius punter Chris Wegener got off a 10-yard kick that left the War Eagles at the Golden Lions’ 42-yard-line. On the next play, Googer found Jeffrey Hubbar with a perfect throw on a post pattern to tie the score with 4:13 left in the first quarter.
Googer’s 18-yard scoring run out of the shotgun early in the second quarter gave Woodward a 14-7 lead the War Eagles never lost.
The key to that drive came when St. Pius safety Brian O’Reilly recovered a fumble on the first play of the period only to have officials that the Woodward ballcarrier had his helmet torn off before losing the ball to render the play dead.
“Basically, spread it out and run our game plan,” Googer said of the War Eagles’ approach. “We’ve got playmakers all over the field. We can run the ball and pass the ball, and basically that’s what we did.”
Woodward led 21-14 at halftime, and St. Pius tied the game twice in the second half as Branden Mitchell scored from 5 yards out soon after Daniel Crochet blocked a Coles punt early in the third quarter, and later when fullback Dalton Wilson scored his second touchdown.
The Golden Lions, though, just couldn’t stop the War Eagles.
Working chiefly out of the shotgun, Googer was both elusive and difficult for the War Eagles to tackle.
He had help. Running back Elijah Holyfield rushed 14 times for 75 yards and two scores. Quincy Wolff rushed twice for 21 yards and a touchdown and added two receptions for another 52 yards as Googer completed 6-of-11 passes.
The War Eagles, Golden Lions, Blessed Trinity and Cedar Grove are tied for the Region 6-AAA lead. Woodward plays Cedar Grove next week, when St. Pius travels to BT.
Googer likes Woodward Academy’s spot, and he loved that the War Eagles met their goals Friday night.
“We were so pumped up for this game. We wanted to prove that we’re here to stay and we’re going to make a run at the state title this year,” he said. “Everybody said last year was just a fluke because they had turnovers, but we had a game plan this year to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and we can beat anybody.”
Woodward Academy – 7 14 7 14 – 42
St. Pius X – 7 7 14 0 – 28
SPX – Joey Connors 30 run (Thomas O’Leary kick)
WA – Jeffrey Hubbar 42 pass from Terry Googer (A.J. Cole kick)
WA – Googer 18 run (Cole kick)
SPX – Dalton Wilson 35 run (O’Leary kick)
WA – Elijah Holyfield 2 run (Cole kick)
SPX – Branden Mitchell 5 run (O’Leary kick)
WA – Quincy Wolff 5 run (Cole kick)
SPX – Wilson 16 run (O’Leary kick)
WA – Googer 23 run (Cole kick)
WA – Holyfield 4 run (Cole kick)