For a quarter and a half, it looked as if Westminster would emphatically break two losing streaks at Woodward Academy – the one where the Wildcats were 0-2 to start the season and the one where they were winless in their last four contests against one of their biggest rivals.
But both streaks still live.
Woodward Academy (2-0) rallied from a 21-point deficit to tie the game by halftime, and then held Westminster scoreless in the second half en route to a 31-21 win in front of their home crowd at Colquitt Stadium in downtown College Park.
Westminster scored on its first two offensive possessions. After the Wildcat defense stymied Woodward’s offense on its first possession, Westminster took over on its 41-yard line and marched 59 yards in nine plays, with backup quarterback Chance Loeffler scoring on a 4-yard run to make the score 7-0 after Charlie Ham’s point after kick.
On the Wildcats’ next possession, Loeffler spun out of a near sack, rolled to his left and found Nance Hill behind the War Eagle secondary for a 36-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with a little more than a minute to play in the first quarter.
Then just one minute into the second quarter, a bad shotgun snap to the Woodward quarterback was recovered in the end zone by a Westminster defender for a 21-0 lead.
But the War Eagle’s got a big lift from junior running back Tahj Gary on their next possession. He one-handed a swing pass from quarterback Christian Wylder, bounced off a tackler and raced 84 yards for a touchdown to get Woodward on the board. DA Allen thwarted Westminster’s next drive when he picked off a pass and returned it inside Wildcat territory. The War Eagle’s capitalized when Wylder found Gary for a 35-yard touchdown pass to narrow the gap to 21-14.
Then things got even worse for Westminster. Following a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, a bad snap to Loeffler bounced into the end zone and was recovered by War Eagle defensive end Drew Dunson to tie the score at 21-21 at halftime.
“I’ve been preaching to the guys, good or bad, you have to move on to the next play,” Woodward head coach John Hunt said. “I told them our execution was pitiful and [at halftime] we were still tied. We came out in the second half and still made some mistakes, but we battled.”
The War Eagles’ defense bent but didn’t break in the final two quarters. Woodward forced two turnovers in their own territory, one when midway through the fourth quarter when the Wildcats were at the War Eagle’s 16-yard line.
“We just had too many turnovers,” said Westminster head coach Gerry Romberg. “You can’t turn the ball over like that against a good team like Woodward and expect to win. But we’re really young and we’ve got some guys injured.
“We get an off week and we should get some guys back,” Romberg said. “I was hoping our young guys would get some confidence, and it looked like we were. But we just made too many mistakes in the end.”
Woodward is just as young and inexperienced at Westminster. Hunt said he and his coaches will have to continue to be patient while the team grows up.
“The mistakes we’re making are fixable,” Hunt said. “We just have to be patient and work through them.”
Westminster 14 7 0 0 21
Woodward Academy 0 21 3 7 31
W – Chance Loeffler 4 run (Charlie Ham kick)
W – Nance Hill 36 pass from Loeffler (Ham kick)
W – Fumble recovery in end zone (Ham kick)
WA – Tahj Gary 84 pass from Christian Wilder (Marshall Golic kick)
WA – Gary 35 pass from Wilder (Golic kick)
WA – Drew Dunson recovers fumble in end zone (Golic kick)
WA – Golic 24 fg
WA – Gary 23 run (Golic kick)