St. Georges rallies to oust Raiders in D-II semifinal 33-14

ST. GEORGES — Up a touchdown at halftime, Woodbridge High couldn’t repeat the feat after intermission.

The Blue Raiders faded late during a 33-14 loss at top-seeded St. Georges on Saturday afternoon, missing an opportunity to make the first state championship game in school history.

The Division II football tournament semifinal was in doubt until nearly the end, but the hosts scored two touchdowns in the final 2:44 to end the suspense. St. Georges will face Howard in next Saturday’s title game at the University of Delaware.

With dozens of fans who made the trip from Bridgeville applauding heartily, Woodbridge left the field at halftime up 14-7, thanks to a smashing defensive effort and several clutch offensive plays against a 10-1 team on its home field.

Standout defensive end Leah Styles suffered a game-ending concussion just before halftime, though, and Woodbridge coach Ed Manlove said it mattered greatly during the final 24 minutes when his team surrendered 26 unanswered points.

“We were just trying to maintain (a lead) and injuries began cropping up,” said Manlove,

“Styles is a force, he’s dominant, I think he’s a first team all-state player. It’s tough (to lose him).”

St. Georges coach J.D. Maull, a Cape Henlopen High product, said his Hawks couldn’t wait to get into the lockeroom for a break.

“We needed halftime to make adjustments,” Maull said. “We needed to take care of ourselves.”

Through teary eyes afterward, junior Blaize Rayford said his Woodbridge teammates were ready to go, but got exploited in the third and fourth quarters played in a light rain at times.

“We were ready to play and they got our best shot,” Rayford said. “Then they adjusted to our defense and attacked where we weren’t as strong.”

With a ground pounding attack, St. Georges methodically scored on touchdown drives of 49 and 47 yards in the third quarter, flipping the scoreboard advantage to 21-14 behind the rushing of Gary Brightwell, Angelo Ortiz and Logan Gilbert.

The Hawks went 88 yards on 12 straight running plays in the fourth quarter, with Brightwell going the final 35 yards for a 27-14 with less than three minutes remaining. A final score came about a minute later after Woodbridge quarterback Troy Haynes was intercepted deep in his own territory, setting up a short touchdown drive.

“Woodbridge played well, they were stopping our inside run,” Maull said. “We got things going … I thought we wore Woodbridge down.”

After topping No. 2 Delaware Military Academy 12-7 in last week’s quarterfinals, Woodbridge felt the other side of playoff finality this week.

“It’s terrible for the seniors … but they got us here twice (to the playoffs),” Manlove said.

Woodbridge trailed almost immediately after Brightwell went 79 yards on the first play from scrimmage after the opening kickoff. He added three more touchdowns in the second half.

“He’s amazing,” Manlove said. “There were times where we thought we had him wrapped up, but he just kept going.”

Woodbridge was up to the challenge of the early blow, and Jaylyn Magee’s interception set up a game-tying drive midway through the first quarter.

On a fourth and 15 play, Haynes hit Bragg Davis in stride for a 22-yard touchdown hookup, and Christopher Albury’s extra point tied the game at 7-7 with 6:13 left in the first quarter.

Led by Jawaun Rodriguez, Amari Cannon, Magee, Jamon Kane, Davis, Joshua Roth, Shymere Vessels, Garret Temple, Styles, Kirby Williams, among others, Woodbridge’s defense was stout and unscored on for nearly the entire first half.

Williams scored a 3-yard touchdown run and 14-7 lead with 6:56 remaining in the second quarter, which was set up by Davis’s 36-yard reception.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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