Greenwood – The crowd had left, the players were celebrating in the locker room, all but one bank of stadium lights had been turned off and Woodbridge head coach Marvin Dooley sat alone on the bench.
“As we get older we have to take time to take in what just happened, these kids are excited and right now they don’t understand how hard it is to get to a championship game or think about how much work they have put in so far,” Dooley said.
Two Ci-Atrick Stone interceptions led to a pair of touchdowns by Kenny Newton touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the game giving Woodbridge the cushion that would lead to a 24-14 Class AA semi final victory over Wilmington Friends. The Blue Raiders advance to their fourth state championship game since 2016.
Wilmington Friends drove to midfield on their opening series. On a third and 14 Stones intercepted Robby Tattersall’s pass at the Woodbridge 36 yard line and returned it to the Quakers 25 yard line. Newton then carried the ball three times, capping off the short drive with a 17 yard touchdown run. Newton added the two point conversion and the Blue Raiders took an 8-0 lead with 7:10 to play in the first quarter. Stones struck again on the first play of the ensuing Wilmington Friends drive intercepting Tattersall again this time at the Quakers 37 yard line.
Newton again carried the ball three times finishing off the drive with a 29 yard touchdown run. Jordan Evans converted the point after run and the Blue Raiders led 16-0 with 5:29 to play in the first quarter. The two teams traded punts throughout the second quarter before Woodbridge would take over on their own twenty yard line with 2:46 to play in the first half. Back to back long runs by Newton set up a 20 yard touchdown run by Evans. Evans then converted the two point run giving Woodbridge a 24-0 lead with 1:29 left to play in the first half.
Newton led all rushers with 190 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. He also caught a pass for 23 yards.
Late in the third quarter the Blue Raiders facing a fourth and six saw the first of a pair of Woodbridge special teams miscues. Quincy Risper was brought down for an eight yard loss on a fake punt attempt that Dooley later explained was not the play call. “There was some miscommunication on the play call, a fake punt there wasn’t the call,” Dooley said.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Tattersall connected with Osi Chukwuocha for a 15 yard touchdown pass. Alessio Cristanetti-Walker was good on the extra point kick as the Quakers closed the gap to 24-7 with 11:51 to play in the game. Woodbridge was forced to punt on their next possession. Chukwuocha broke through the middle, blocked the punt and then returned the ball to the Blue Raiders three yard line. Three plays later Chukwuocha plunged in from inside the one yard line for a touchdown. Cristanetti-Walker added the kick and Wilmington Friends cut it to a two score lead for Woodbridge 24-14 with 6:58 to play in the game.
“You might say that we played flat in the second half, but Friends had a lot to do with that. They are a well coached team, they could have come out and folded in the second half but they didn’t quit so hats off to them,” Dooley said.
Wilmington Friends would get the ball back with three minutes to play, but Lextyn Wescott intercepted a second down pass allowing the Blue Raiders offense to run out the clock.
“We knew coming in this wasn’t going to be easy, even when we were up 24-0, when they had the ball on the three we didn’t give up we fought down there,” linebacker Wyatt Wright said.
Woodbridge improved to 12-0 on the season and advanced to the Class AA state championship game next Saturday at the University of Delaware. The Blue Raiders will play the winner of the Archmere Academy – Delaware Military Academy game. Wilmington Friends dropped to 11-2 on the season.