Ground game leads Woodbridge to 21-14 win over Wilmington Friends

Running back Jayquon Massey, who ran for two touchdowns, follows his blockers against Wilmington Friends. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

WILMINGTON — Jaden Bacon set the offense up in perfect position. Tyrez Cannon cashed in on the opportunity.

The Woodbridge High sophomore defensive back picked off a Wilmington Friends pass attempt with 2:55 remaining in a tie ball game.

A penalty at the end of the play set the Blue Raiders up inside enemy territory and it took just one play for the junior Cannon to scamper for the 45-yard, go-ahead touchdown.

The defensive unit made one final stop, with linebacker La-Tyron Stones intercepting a fourth down pass, to solidify a 21-14 road victory over Wilmington Friends at Tattersall Field Saturday afternoon.

Tyrez Cannon turns the corner and avoids a potential tackler.

The nonconference win, a rematch of last December’s Division II state title game also won by Woodbridge, keeps the Blue Raiders unbeaten at 3-0.

Wilmington Friends (2-1) won the regular season Week 3 showdown, in a close 24-21 battle, exactly one year ago to the day. The two have met six times since the 2016 season, with the Blue Raiders winning five of those six matchups.

“It’s a huge win, obviously,” said coach Jed Bell. “We certainly have a nice little series, and tradition, going with these guys.

“We’re pretty young this year, so coming up here on a Saturday it’s a little bit different of a feel, it’s always hot and guys are cramping up in the second half. I’m just really proud of the kids because they never quit and that’s what it’s all about.”

Bacon finished with two interceptions, while Stones added one. The defense forced four first-half punts.

Cannon led the Blue Raiders’ aggressive ground attack, which accumulated 302 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries.

Cannon tallied 133 of those yards with his go-ahead touchdown on 17 carries, while senior Jayquon Massey added 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns on his 12 carries.

“We were just running hard, following our blockers,” said Cannon. “That’s all you have to do to stay in the hunt.”

“I’m feeling great,” said Massey. “As long as we got that win — the team did their thing — that’s all that matters right now.”

Freshman Kenny Newton didn’t receive a carry out of the backfield until the second half, but still managed to pile up 62 yards on his seven carries.

Woodbridge coach Jed Bell talks to his players during a timeout Saturday afternoon.

Quarterback Dalton Perdue completed one of his four pass attempts for 26 yards for the Blue Raiders.

“We’ve got a stable,” Bell said of the backfield. “We have a lot of confidence in our backs, for sure. Kenny [Newton] is one of those guys, he’s a starter on defense but he’s one of our first guys off the bench to take that rock and he’s ready for it every week.”

Woodbridge’s offense had a sluggish start, punting the ball away in each of the team’s first four possessions.

Friends struck first by piecing together a 10-play scoring drive, capped by a 43-yard field booted by placekicker Jacob Jaworski.

Trailing 3-0 heading into the second quarter, Woodbridge finally found its rhythm, with the help of a 15-yard penalty against Friends.

Massey capped the five-play drive by dashing for a 27-yard touchdown. The Xavier Hayes extra point put the Blue Raiders ahead, 7-3, with 7:22 remaining in the half.

Woodbridge’s defense forced consecutive punts by the Quakers and used the momentum of Perdue’s 26-yard completion to Newton to jump ahead by double digits.

Massey ran for his second touchdown of the day, this one from 33 yards out, with just 34 seconds until the break. Hayes’ extra point gave the Raiders an 11-point lead.

Friends reversed the momentum in the second half, scoring 11 unanswered points on its first two possessions.

Quarterback Wyatt Nelson led the Quaker offense down the length of the field on a 14-play drive that ate up nearly eight minutes of clock.

Nelson’s six-yard touchdown toss to senior Steven Williams, plus Nelson’s two-point conversion to tight end Patrick McKenzie, brought the score to within 14-11.

On Woodbridge’s ensuing drive, Friends’ Peter Erskine picked off a pass to set up a Jaworski 22-yard field goal to tie the game, 14-14, with 11:07 remaining.

A potential go-ahead field goal sailed wide left at the 4:06 mark, but Bacon’s interception five plays later set the Raiders up for the winning touchdown.

“We just had to pick ourselves up,” Massey said of the defense. “At the end we just had to lock everything up and make sure we didn’t have any penalties – we had a lot of them today. We did what we have to do to finish out and get the win.”

“It feels good to start the season out undefeated, we just can’t get too cocky and have to keep going,” said Bacon.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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