Woodward Academy 37, Sandy Creek 7

Before Sandy Creek ran one play against Woodward Academy, the Patriots had to call time out to get their personnel and formation correct. When they did run the first play, the Patriots were called for holding.

And then things got worse. A lot worse.

While the pregame talk centered around the return of Woodward Academy’s dynamic running back Elijah Holyfield, who had been out since Sept. 4 with a foot injury, it was the War Eagles’ defense and passing game -- led by junior quarterback Ryan Glover -- that made a major statement. Woodward (8-0, 3-0 in Region 5), ranked No. 3 in Class AAAA, showed it is much more than Holyfield and did so in dominating fashion with a 37-7 win over No. 8 Sandy Creek (6-2, 2-1).

The result was beyond shocking. Sandy Creek, one of the state’s most successful programs in recent years, regardless of classification, was 64-4 over the last five seasons with two state championships (2010 and 2012) – both coming as a result of perfect 15-0 seasons. This season, aside from an upset loss to Jonesboro (17-15) in Week 2, the Patriots were averaging more than 40 points a game while yielding an average of just six.

But Woodward Academy laid waste to all of those numbers. War Eagle head coach John Hunt said his squad played its best game of the season.

“Obviously, Sandy Creek has been a great team for a long time, and so I wanted to see how we would step up to the challenge,” said Hunt, who in his fourth season in College Park has led the War Eagles to their best start since they began the 1997 season 11-0. “Our approach was wonderful all week in practice, and we kept stressing execution and tonight we executed. I’m real proud. They earned that win.”

Especially the defense. That unit -- led by senior linebacker Max Richardson (committed to Boston College) and junior defensive linemen Knox Hagan and Coston Barber – stifled Sandy Creek’s potent running game and forced sophomore quarterback Bryant Walker into throwing his first two interceptions of the season.

“I’m a little surprised at the 37 points, but not the 7,” Hunt said of the score. “That’s how our defense has been playing all season.”

The beat down began on Woodward’s very first play of the game. After forcing Sandy Creek to go three-and-out, the War Eagles took advantage of a short punt and took over on the Patriot 40 yard line. With Holyfield in the backfield, Glover faked a handoff to the senior UGA commit, and hit a wide open Jacob Robertson down the far sideline, as Sandy Creek’s secondary came up quickly in run support. Martin Rodriquez’s point after kick made the score 7-0.

Sandy Creek moved the ball on its second possession, but the War Eagle defense eventually forced another punt that sailed into the end zone for a touchback. Woodward proceeded to drive 80 yards in eight plays, including a 37-yard run by Glover and a 23-yard catch and run by Holyfield on a middle screen. Holyfield did the honors, capping the march with a 13-yard touchdown run in which he started up the middle but bounced outside, shook a defender and then danced into the end zone for a 14-0 War Eagle lead late in the first quarter.

After the teams traded interceptions, Woodward pushed its lead to 20-0 when Glover threw his second touchdown of the game – a 23-yarder to Antone Williams.

Sandy Creek answered quickly when on the second play of its ensuing drive, junior running back Marvin Hubbard ran out of two tackles, bounced outside and raced 81 yards for a touchdown to narrow the gap to 20-7 with a little less than five minutes left in the half.

But Woodward put the game when Glover and the War Eagle offense executed its two-minute offense to perfection. Glover capped a 50-yard, one-minute drive with a beautifully thrown ball down the near sideline to Robertson for a 26-yard touchdown and a 27-7 lead with just 30 seconds left before halftime. Glover finished the game with 309 yards passing, and four  touchdowns.

Sandy Creek                         0          7          0          0          7

Woodward Academy           14        13        10        0          37

WA – Jacob Robertson 40 pass from Ryan Glover (Martin Rodriguez kick)

WA – Elijah Holyfield 13 run (Rodriguez kick)

WA – Antone Williams 23 pass from Glover (kick failed)

SC – Marvin Hubbard 81 run (Javan Hawes kick)

WA – Robertson 26 pass from Glover (Rodriguez kick)

WA – Rodriguez 32 fg

WA – Joshua Johnson 72 pass from Glover (Rodriguez kick)