In their regular-season meeting last year, the Woodgrove Wolverines lost a heart-breaking game on Loudoun County's last-second 48-yard field goal to give the Raiders a thrilling homecoming victory.
In the midst of a playoff push and determined not to let that happen on its homecoming night, Woodgrove combined big-play offense and an aggressive defense to defeat County 35-13 in a match-up of Group 4A Dulles District schools Oct. 17 in Purcellville.
Woodgrove improved to 5-2 overall and 4-0 against district opponents. County (3-4, 1-2) dropped below the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The Wolverines opened the game with an impressive scoring drive. Sparked by a 32-yard run by backup sophomore quarterback Mikey Kovich, Woodgrove capped the long drive by scoring on a punishing 15-yard touchdown run by junior running back Charlie Clewis.
After the Raiders’ defense settled in, County responded with a similarly long offensive series, tying the game early in the second quarter when senior quarterback Tae Crews-Naylor dove in from short yardage for a score.
Woodgrove immediately responded by driving the length of the field to regain the lead at 13-7. The drive culminated with quarterback Billy Sheehan avoiding a near sack on third-and-long before making an off-balance pass to leading receiver Dylan Mellor for a 15-yard touchdown.
“Billy and I worked together all summer to get that feel, and that play showed it,” Mellor said.
County’s subsequent, promising drive ended by a strip and fumble recovery by Woodgrove junior defensive back Cole Rosick. The Wolverine offense took advantage when Sheehan avoided heavy pressure and connected with Mellor on a 71-yard touchdown pass.
Sheehan hit Mellor for the two-point conversion and the Wolverines led 21-7.
The Raiders were pressing to slice the deficit late in the first half when Crews-Naylor was sacked on fourth-and-goal. Crews-Naylor was injured on the play and did not return. Freshman Matthew Branson took over at quarterback in the second half.
After County faltered on its opening drive of the second half, the Raider defense stepped up. County stripped Sheehan of the ball and Zach Costello returned the fumble for a momentum-shifting touchdown.
With its lead trimmed to eight, Woodgrove immediately rallied. Facing third-and-long, Sheehan hit Mellor on a perfect timing throw down the middle for a 77-yard touchdown completion that extended the Wolverine lead to 28-13. The scoring pass was the longest in program history.
Rosick thwarted any chance of a Raider comeback with an interception in the fourth quarter. Rosick has already set a school record for interceptions in a season with six.
“County runs some crazy passing schemes, but it rained [earlier in the week], which forced us to bring the kids inside to slow things down,” Woodgrove head coach Mike Skinner said. “That helped a lot and we might do that again.”
Woodgrove shut the door with a late touchdown on fourth-and-goal. Sheehan connected with Mellor on a perfect timing pattern for the decisive lead. Mellor finished his impressive night with five catches for 187 yards and four touchdowns.
“I told Billy, ‘I’m going 10 yards deep, hit me on the outside,’ and that’s exactly what he did,” Mellor explained. “That’s the payoff for a summer’s work.”
Woodgrove 35, Loudoun County 13
W: Clewis 16 run (Hippler kick), 9:54
LC: Crews-Naylor 3 run (Suder kick), 10:39
W: Mellor 15 pass from B. Sheehan (kick blocked), 7:24
W: Mellor 71 pass from B. Sheehan (Sheehan pass to Mellor), 3:46
LC: Costello 27 fumble return (kick failed), 9:15
W: Mellor 78 pass from B. Sheehan (Hippler kick), 7:50
W: Mellor 15 pass from B. Sheehan (Hippler kick), 6:37
-Photos by Rick Wasser