Blog LIVE Blog of Class 4 State Finals: Woodgrove 38, Lake Taylor 33 - FINAL

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  1. matthew328826

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    Greetings back here on this Saturday late afternoon / early evening from Arthur L. Williams Stadium in Lynchburg as we are set for the second game from Liberty University as the Lake Taylor Titans (13-1) take on the Woodgrove Wolverines (11-2).

    We'll have updates with stats, info and more + be sure to Follow on Twitter @ hatfieldsports as well!
     
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    It'll be Lake Taylor ball to start as Dominique McNair and Javon Harvey are waiting for Woodgrove's Nick Arvanitis to kick it off to the Titans...

    McNair returns it 31 yards as the Titans set up shop at their own 48-yard line. Hank Sawyer's crew from Norfolk is going for their third state title since 2012 in this their fifth appearance in the Championship round. For Mike Skinner's Woodgrove program, this is the first ever trip for the Wolverines, but Skinner won a title as the head man back at Centreville several years back.
     
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    And so it begins - Lake Taylor is off to a fine start and we see why early on why they're averaging a lofty 44.6 points per game. Against Freedom - which is playing Manchester today for the Class 6 crown - earlier this season, the Titans had about three or four scoring drives of less than a minute as we wrote in our preview.

    If that doesn't wake up the Wolverines, what will? They better recover quickly or else Lake Taylor will be dominating.

    A boisterous group - not huge, but very vocal and passionate - made the trip up from Norfolk and they are on their feet after a big hit on the ensuing kickoff delivered by Kiequan Reed.
     
  4. matthew328826

    matthew328826 VaPreps All State
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    Well, how did Woodgrove recover from the Lake Taylor initial burst? The Titans helped the Wolverines settle in with a pair of encroachment penalties. After that, QB Graham Walker - the Region 4C Offensive Player of the Year and Dulles District Offensive Player of the Year - had a 10-yard run. Another strong run of about 11 or 12 yards by Walker has Woodgrove at the Lake Taylor 43-yard line.

    Even though his Titans lead it 7-0 with 9:07 to go in the opening period, Head Coach Hank Sawyer doesn't like what he sees from his defense out of the shoot and calls a time-out in an effort to get them re-positioned and focused on stopping the QB blast runs through the interior. This is a very sturdy Woodgrove o-line with four players that were chosen either 1st or 2nd Team All-Region / All-District.
     
  5. matthew328826

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    Using both QB Graham Walker and junior RB K.J. Lewis, the Wolverines of Woodgrove have a methodical drive going here with their first five runs on the day netting 34 yards. That's nearly 7 yards per clip. They're getting to the second level of the Lake Taylor defense with relative ease, which means the o-line blockers for Woodgrove are pushing the defensive linemen for the Titans off their blocks.

    Another solid gainer on the ground has Woodgrove at the Lake Taylor 22-yard line. We could see depth, possibly even the lack thereof, factor in this one today as the Wolverines have a larger roster than Lake Taylor, a team missing its starting center due to a leg injury in Patrick McEachin.

    Across the board - let's highlight this Woodgrove o-line as it's senior LT Teddy Arvanitis (5-10, 255), junior LG Jordan Wilkerson (6-0, 240), senior center Dominick Caputo (5-11, 255), senior right guard Michael Wilson (6-3, 280) and junior right tackle Trent Edmondson (6-0, 280). Very nice size up front.
     
  6. matthew328826

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    On 3rd & 1, the Lake Taylor defense stiffens. It's Tyrique Tucker making the big hit to get the Titans excited and hyped up a bit.

    Now on 4th & 1 at the Lake Taylor 13, Woodgrove keeps its offense on the field and they go with QB blast with Graham Walker and it doesn't look like he got it as junior LB Ikeem Wright - the Region 4A Defensive Player of the Year, came up and made a solid hit. However, Walker is given forward progress with a yard, to get a roar out of the Woodgrove fans that made the trip down from Purcellville.
     
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    Caught me by surprise that Woodgrove Head Coach Mike Skinner wanted to go for 2 and they went with a pass play, which looked good, except the intended target was out of bounds.

    That's a great answer by Woodgrove after the Titans looked to throw a haymaker to begin things.
     
  8. matthew328826

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    Hearing from our photographer Reese Nobles on the sideline that Malik Newton is receiving medical attention with some serious pain in his eye. They're hoping it's not a concussion and that he can back on the field soon.

    Remember, not only is the Region 4A Offensive Player of the Year and Eastern District Offensive Player of the Year very influential on offense as he approaches 2000 yards rushing on the season, he's one of the team's top tacklers on defense as well from his linebacker spot.
     
  9. matthew328826

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    Two runs by the sophomore pair - QB Jeff Foster and RB Malik Newton - net five yards. Then on 3rd & 5, it's Foster finding big-play wide receiver Javon Harvey. He moves the chains, but is being helped off the field. That's not a good sign because Lake Taylor badly needs him on the field as he plays up to six positions for them.
     
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    Lake Taylor will be lining up to punt with it being 4th & 16 from their own 34 as the drive fizzles. Malik Newton nearly made a spectacular one-handed catch. Kudos to junior DB Malachi Haynes for his coverage on a couple of Titans pass plays as he's been solid thus far.
     
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    Totally baffled on why Lake Taylor tried a fake punt there with Dominique Daniels. Only thing I can think of is the snap wasn't good and Daniels decided to do so on his own, because it's not like the Titans to try something like that given the down and distance situation. Nonetheless, we'll see if Woodgrove can capitalize and build a lead like they did a week ago in the State Semis against Blacksburg.
     
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    The Wolverines nearly fumble, yet are able to hop on it and then a pass is incomplete to bring up 3rd & 14 for Woodgrove. We don't see Woodgrove fumble very much at all - just 5 on the season with 4 of them lost. Coming in, Lake Taylor had 32 fumbles and 15 lost.

    The Wolverines decide to go for it on 4th & 14 from the Lake Taylor 34-yard line and Walker's pass for Nick Lockhart - the 6'6" two-way standout headed to Virginia Tech to play his College Basketball - is too high even for the big man.

    Titans come up with an important stop and take over with 1:12 left in the opening period, clinging to a one-point lead.
     
  13. matthew328826

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    We just referenced the fumble stat a moment ago and it ends up being the 16th lost fumble of the year. Woodgrove looks to run the ball between the tackles these next couple of plays to take us to the end of the opening quarter.

    That catch by Wright by the way was roughly between 42-47 yards.
     
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    We'll change sides of the field and get ready for second quarter action in what is shaping up to be a good on here at Liberty, hopefully to the excitement level that both teams had a week ago with Lake Taylor outlasting Eastern View and Woodgrove edging Blacksburg in OT. Both coaching staffs probably would prefer not quite that much drama, though.

     
  15. matthew328826

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    Just 1:03 into the second quarter, Woodgrove is looking at 3rd & 9 from their own 39 after a 1-yard run from Price Williams and incomplete pass by Graham Walker.

    Boy, I know we noted it in the Preview earlier, but Ikeem Wright is looking like one of the best players on the field in this game and similar to former Lake Taylor star and Ohio State Buckeyes player Jalyn Holmes, now of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. The junior outside linebacker wearing #12 had four tackles in the opening quarter.

     
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    That caps a 6-play, 78-yard drive in 2:05. The Woodgrove offense is clicking, both running and passing, to this point. Lake Taylor is searching for some answers defensively. However, missing the extra point - something we highlighted in our Preview had been troubling them before - and the two-point conversion might be pivotal as we move along in a game that is sure to produce plenty of points.

    A busted coverage on the play allowed Miller to get his 4th TD reception of the season.
     
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    So much for Lake Taylor being in big trouble. One of the Keys we noted in the Preview for Lake Taylor was Big Plays > Long Drives. Woodgrove wants long drives. The Titans want big plays. We're getting a little of both in an entertaining first half. Woodgrove cannot let him continue to do that today.

    By the way, Newton is now at 1935 yards rushing for the season following that scamper.

    A Woodgrove miscues on the ensuing kickoff puts them at their own 23-yard line with 10:24 to go in the second quarter.
     
  18. matthew328826

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    Graham Walker gains a yard on the first down play and then he runs into trouble with multiple Lake Taylor defenders in the box converging on him. Tell you what, one of the things that impresses me about the Battlefield transfer and signal caller for the Wolverines is how durable he is. Coming into this one, he's run the ball 236 times - that's 48 more times than Newton - and he's the QB.

    Walker completes a pass to Nick Lockhart out of bounds, up to the 37-yard line, as they try to get closer to midfield with a pick up of 13. Senior linebacker Keonte Welch is biting down on the keeper better and that is putting Woodgrove in some longer second as well as third down situations that make them more inclined to pass instead of run.
     
  19. matthew328826

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    Nick Lockhart hauls in a pass on a comeback / curl and Woodgrove moves the chains yet again. The Wolverines are up to 174 total yards of offense, just 1 under Lake Taylor's count of 175, and they are 4 of 6 on third downs today. That's similar to the high conversion rate Heritage of Lynchburg had in its win over another '757' area code team in Phoebus for the Class 3 crown, 24-20, in the battle before this one.

    A face-mask on Lake Taylor will put the Wolverines at the 30-yard line of the men in red. Since Woodgrove is wearing white and green, you can guess who that is. A ridiculous one-handed snag by Richmond Spiders commit Ben Castellano inside the 5-yard line for Woodgrove has them knocking on the door.
     
  20. matthew328826

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    So that 8 yards per catch average coming in was deceiving you're telling me? Yes, that's what I'm telling you. He must've been watching some one-handed snags by Lake Taylor's Javon Harvey - including the one against Wilson that got him on ESPN's Randy Moss segment - and said he wanted some of that in his final game with the Wolverines before moving on to the CAA.
     
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    So Woodgrove continues to hum offensively, but I'm a bit puzzled - even with an inconsistent kicking game - why they are chasing points. Clearly, Coach Skinner knows they have to score a lot of points to win this game and keep up with the Titans. In likely thinking that, they try an onside kick and Lake Taylor recovers. The gamble in doing that means Lake Taylor has excellent field position at their own 45.
     
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    Almost at a loss for words at how good Malik Newton as a tenth grader. How dangerous will he be as a senior? Scary.
     
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    The zaniness continues here in Lynchburg as Woodgrove's Graham Walker hits Nick Lockhart for a 33-yard completion.

    Woodgrove is looking at 1st & 10 from the Lake Taylor 25 moments after Walker converted a 3rd & 1 on a run play up the middle.

    Who's going to flinch in this score-fest of a game? Right now we have 481 total yards of offense and there's still 3 minutes, meaning both teams can add to the yardage and point totals.
     
  24. matthew328826

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    An encroachment penalty on Lake Taylor - their third of the day - gives Woodgrove a fresh set of downs. Graham Walker's pass from the 12-yard line is incomplete, stopping the clock at 2:28 before the break.

    The usually run-heavy Wolverines go to a four-wide receiver set, and though Ben Castellano falls down, his legs got tangled up with DB Raylyn Manley and there is no pass interference called (looked to be the right call from my angle up here... but I'll readily admit I'm about 3000+ feet in the air, or so it seems).

    Now 3rd & 10 and the Wolverines stay with a 4-receiver set. Unable to make the catch in a one-on-one matchup is Nick Lockhart with Pierre Royster in coverage.

    On 4th & 10, Woodgrove leaves the offense on the field instead of trying the field goal and it's a great tippy-toe catch in the back of the end zone by freshman Price Williams.
     
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    We've got 501 total yards of offense in this first half in case you're wondering...
     
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    Lake Taylor decides to give Malik Newton a breather and run Dominique McNair on first down. He gains two yards. Their second down pass is incomplete.

    On 3rd & 8, QB Jeff Foster knows it's time to go to Newton, but he ends up losing 4 on a reception out of the backfield and Nick Lockhart was there to make an emphatic stop alongside senior linebacker Amatz Wolfe.

    Woodgrove Coach Mike Skinner uses a time-out with 1:13 to go before the break - their final one - as they try to get the ball back and possibly get in scoring position to pad their 24-21 lead on the Titans.
     
  27. matthew328826

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    So Woodgrove gets the ball back with 1:02 remaining in the second period at their own 38 following the Lake Taylor punt. Really, I go back to the fake punt by the Titans that seemed to turn things in a wild first half where these two squads have combined for 32 second quarter points alone.

    A big run of 13 yards by Graham Walker gets Woodgrove at midfield.

    Then with less than 30 seconds to go, Walker continues to light up this Lake Taylor defense as he finds Krzys Miller over the top, getting past defender Dominique Daniels. Miller's catch is worth 40 yards down to the Lake Taylor 9.

    The Wolverines spike it with 26 seconds before the break. A delay of game penalty pushes them back to the LT 14. The Titans desperately need a stop here. It might not seem like much in this high-scoring affair, but it'll give them help what seems to be a rattled confidence for the Lake Taylor defense.
     
  28. matthew328826

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    Coach Sawyer has to be breathing a sigh of relief there. They could've gone down 31-21, plus Woodgrove would be getting the football first to start the 2nd half.
     
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    Class 4 Championship at the Half - Woodgrove 24, Lake Taylor 21

    Stats at the Half:

    Woodgrove 24:

    Graham Walker - 10-21 for 229Yds. 3-0TD/Int. ratio; 15Car. 65Yds.
    K.J. Lewis - 10Car. 33Yds. TD
    Krzys Miller - 2Rec. 101Yds. TD
    Nick Lockhart - 3Rec. 55Yds.
    Ben Castellano - 3Rec. 49Yds.
    Amatz Wolfe - 5 Tackles

    Wolverines - 48 plays for 324 total yards (27 rushes for 95 yards; 10-21 for 229 yards passing, 0 intercepts); 0 turnovers; 2 penalties for 10 yards; 4 of 8 on 3rd downs; 3 of 4 on 4th downs; 19 first downs; 18:29 Time of Possession.


    Lake Taylor 21:
    Jeff Foster - 3-6 for 50Yds. 0-0TD/Int. ratio; 3Car. 49Yds. TD
    Malik Newton - 4Car. 129Yds. 2TD's
    Ikeem Wright - 1Rec. 47Yds; 5 Tackles (4 Solo)
    Javon Harvey - 1Rec. 6Yds.
    Corey Holloway - 8 Tackles (5 Solo)
    Tavion Copeland - 6 Tackles

    Titans - 16 plays for 229 total yards (10 rushes for 179 yards; 3-6 for 50 yards passing, 0 intercepts); 1 turnover on a lost fumble; 5 penalties for 35 yards; 1 of 3 on 3rd downs; 0 of 1 on 4th downs; 4 first downs; 5:31 Time of Possession.
     
  30. matthew328826

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    That's not good news at all for Lake Taylor and Woodgrove will probably keep going to the air with Harvey out of the game.
     
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    Cameron Beebe makes a 53-yard reception from QB Graham Walker early on to begin the 2nd half and the Wolverines continues to torch this Lake Taylor secondary, minus Javon Harvey.
     
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    Woodgrove picked up right where it left off in the first half as their offense is completely having its way with this Titans defense. They are up to 389 total yards. To be completely honest, I'm starting to wonder if the Titans have enough bodies on defense to slow them down.
     
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    Lake Taylor is looking at 3rd & 9 from their own 43 and they badly need a completion from QB Jeff Foster to keep things from spiraling out of control. The pressure is applied by the Woodgrove defensive front with Theo Wilson. Foster's pass is incomplete and the officials call intentional grounding.

    Woodgrove is sensing it is very close to separating from Lake Taylor, something only team has done this season. That was Norcom in a surprising 33-13 rout on October 13th.

    The Titans are punting it away on 4th & 27 from their own 25 and they have to be careful not to let this one get blocked.
     
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    Up the middle Woodgrove continues to run it right at Lake Taylor - QB Graham Walker gains 4, 10 and 8 yards. This young man has 381 yards from scrimmage with 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter!! That's unreal. He's tough as nails running the ball.

    Lake Taylor's defense briefly buckles down on 3rd & short with Jayshaun Brown-Houston making back-to-back stops. Then on 4th & 1 from the 41-yard line of the Titans, Walker gets 2 more to move the chains and the clock keeps rolling.

    Right now the Time of Possession advantage is giant for Woodgrove, and for the Titans it's somewhat of a helpless feeling.
     
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    Nearly the break Lake Taylor needed came when Graham Walker handed off to freshman Price Williams, who puts it on the carpet, but alertly hops on it before a loss of 2. Now it's 3rd & 8 - and most of the 3rd downs have been short yardage variety for Woodgrove today. The pass is knocked down at the line of scrimmage by Ralph Byrd it appears.

    Woodgrove decides to quick-kick punt it on 4th & 8 from the Lake Taylor 37-yard line. An outstanding job by the Wolverines to pin Lake Taylor all the way down at their own 2-yard line with 3:39 to go in the 3rd period.

    Trailing by 11, Lake Taylor needs one of those explosive plays to get them back in the game. Problem is they are missing Harvey, so it likely has to come from Newton.
     
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    On first down, Dominique McNair gains just a yard. Then on 2nd down, Jeff Foster's pass is almost intercepted with Drake Bachman providing great coverage for Woodgrove.

    On 3rd & 9 from their own 3, Foster delivers a big-time strike to tight end and Region 4A Defensive Player of the Year Ikeem Wright good for 37 yards. The Titans have life again.
     
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    That was a 5-play, 98-yard drive in 1:41 for Lake Taylor. Another one of those scoring drives that take less than 2 minutes. Just when we were almost ready to bury Hank Sawyer's Titans, they rise up again and come through with a big answer, backed up in their own end.

    We've not seen Malik Newton get going in this 2nd half, so Lake Taylor might have to win this with Foster's arm and their defense showing some guts, guile and heart.
     
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    Woodgrove begins at their own 30 and it's a 3-yard run on first down by QB Graham Walker in what was his 23rd carry of the day.

    Walker takes a vicious shot from Titans star defensive end Corey Holloway - 19 sacks and 10 forced fumbles on the year - and yet he stands in and completes it to Nick Lockhart for 25 yards. That puts Walker at 313 yards through the air. So impressed with how he's stood in the pocket and shown no fear against a very aggressive defense known to psych many of its opponents out.

    Under a minute left in this 3rd period.
     
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    Graham Walker is hit by both Ikeem Wright and Corey Holloway and Lake Taylor fans were wanting a fumble. However, the refs say his arm was coming forward and it's called incomplete. On 3rd & 8 from their 43, the Titans bring heavy pressure again and Tyrique Tucker makes a hit on Walker, pass is incomplete. But the call is roughing the passer and that looked to be correct from my spot up here.

    Woodgrove now has a fresh set of downs at the 28-yard line of Lake Taylor. The Titans need to stand firm and force a field goal try as the kicking game has been an adventure for the Wolverines all day. An encroachment is called on Lake Taylor, putting Woodgrove even closer to scoring.
     
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    Woodgrove has trips right, but they keep it up the middle with Walker. See, it's a pick-your-poison situation on defense. Do you focus on the receiving threats or key in on Walker's ability to run behind a strong, large o-line between the tackles? Either way, Woodgrove finds a way to manufacture yards and keep the drive alive.
     

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