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The Cavaliers opened their 2012 home schedule on Friday night at Woodson’s Pat Cunningham Stadium against the James Madison Warhawks. They played for a large crowd complete with students back from summer break, mild evening weather, and the Marching Cavaliers Band, all the necessary ingredients for an enjoyable Woodson football experience. Unfortunately, the Warhawks refused to cooperate, as they spoiled the night for the Cavs, pulling away late in the game for a 39 – 13 win.
The game started well for the Cavs. As hoped for after last week’s fine second half at Chantilly, Woodson’s solid play carried over into the first half against Madison. The Cavaliers’ defense managed to hold the Warhawks to only a 3-point field goal until very late in the half. And on offense, Woodson put together a fine scoring drive to take a 7 – 3 lead with just under three minutes before halftime.
Despite the positive start, Woodson’s good play and good fortune faltered with seconds to go in the first half and then again in the fourth quarter. The Warhawks scored a touchdown before halftime to take an 11 – 7 lead, and they didn’t allow Woodson back in the contest.
Woodson had to contend with poor starting field position throughout the first half. The Cavs began their first four possessions at their own 20 yard line. Midway through the second quarter following a sack by Cavs’ junior linebacker Dean Rye, Madison was forced to punt. The Cavaliers gained possession near midfield, and from there began their first scoring drive.
A key play on the drive was a third down-and-13 pass completion from senior quarterback Andrew MacKay to senior tight end Peter Murray. Runs by senior running back Joe Carter then helped move the ball to Madison’s five yard line. Woodson then reached the end zone on a swing pass from MacKay to senior running back Jeff O’Brian. Sophomore kicker Jacob Oleyar added the extra point to put the Cavaliers up 7 – 3 with 2:50 left in the first half.
After the score, the teams exchanged punts before Madison managed to crack the end zone with seconds left on Dan Powers’ short touchdown run. The two-point conversion gave the Warhawks the halftime lead, 11 – 7.
Madison took the second half kickoff, but its drive stalled near midfield when the Cavs’ defense stopped the Warhawks’ on a fourth down attempt. Woodson then moved into Madison territory midway through the third quarter, but the Cavs could not sustain the drive and punted back to the Warhawks.
After a scoreless third quarter, the game shifted to Madison in the fourth. The Warhawks’ Ian Cooke scored on a 5-yard run at the 11:00 minute mark up their lead to 18 – 7. Grant Hofmann added a long scoring run a short time later to put Madison in front 25 – 7.
The Cavaliers weren’t done for the night, however. Midway through the fourth quarter Woodson struck again when MacKay hit junior Christian Collins in stride sprinting deep down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown. The score drew Woodson within 25 – 13, but that was as close as they would get. Madison added two late touchdowns to complete the final score, 39 – 13.
The contest was more competitive than the final score might indicate. Woodson played well on offense and defense at times, but it wasn't consistent on either side of the ball.
The loss drops Woodson’s record to 0 – 2. The Cavaliers face another tough challenge this Friday night when they travel to Oakton to take on the powerful Cougars.