Woodbridge edged in D-II football final: Howard captures title with 16-15 victory

Ricky Kane of Woodbridge drags a couple of Howard defenders for a few yards in the second half. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

NEWARK — The rushing attack was a strong point for defending Division II state champion Woodbridge High through the first 12 weeks of the season.

Twelve different runners carried the football for the top-seeded Blue Raiders over that span, but Ricky Kane wasn’t one of them.

But in Saturday night’s DIAA Division II state title showdown against fourth-seeded Howard High, the senior Kane carried the ball 18 times for a team-high 82 yards with one touchdown.

His two-yard score in the third quarter capped a 12-play drive that featured seven consecutive running plays by Kane out of the Wildcat formation.

The second-half touchdown and successful two-point conversion, however, wasn’t quite enough as Howard captured a hard-fought 16-15 victory to dethrone the Blue Raiders for the D-II state title.

Tyrez Cannon of Woodbridge is hoisted high into the air by teammate Vinod Singh after he scored a touchdown in the first half.

It’s just Howard’s second football title in program history, the first coming in 2015.

“We wanted to show them something a little bit differently from what they typically expect from us, so we put it in over the weekend and we did a nice job with that,” coach Jed Bell said of the late addition of the wildcat formation. “With that, unfortunately, I think it’s a tempo thing, and asking so many of our guys to play both sides of the football it kind of wore us down a little bit too.

“We’re not questioning any efforts. Everybody’s level is on empty, as it should be after Week 13 in the state championship, and I think that’s all you can really ask for out of your kids — is that they leave it all out there … I think our kids did that for four quarters and I’m just really proud of them.”

It was the third championship appearance in the last four years for the Blue Raiders (11-2), with title victories coming in 2016 and 2018.

With 5:00 remaining and trailing by a point, Woodbridge forced a turnover on downs at their own 16-yard line and started a drive of their own in hopes of scoring a go-ahead touchdown.

Woodbridge defender Wyatt Wright breaks through the line to sack Howard quarterback Donovan Cartwright for a loss.

Five plays later Howard recovered a fumble near midfield with 2:48 remaining to seal the victory for the Wildcats (12-1).

“I didn’t expect them to go back to that Wildcat because it was going to take too long,” Howard coach Dan Ritter said. “We sent a little bit of pressure with Mike Brock off the edge and Mike had some nice plays, then he ends up recovering that fumble. We lucked out on that one.”

Howard junior Donovan Cartwright completed seven of his 12 passes for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Kevin Ignudo ran for 37 yards on 10 carries. He also reeled in two balls for 46 yards. Junior Tyair Spencer caught three passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Freshman Keshaun Watson led Howard in rushing with 41 yards on eight carries; junior Karvin Reeves added 27 yards on his nine carries.
Junior Ky’eem Williams reeled in a 21-yard touchdown reception on Howard’s first possession of the second half.

Junior Tyrez Cannon ran for 81 yards on just six carries for the Blue Raiders.

Jayquon Massey of Woodbridge stiff-arms his way past Kevin Ignudo of Howard.

After forcing a turnover on downs on the game’s opening drive, Howard’s offense drove 66 yards down the field on eight plays.

A 17-yard touchdown strike from Cartwright to Spencer at the 5:12 mark of the opening quarter put Howard up early. The two-point conversion gave the Wildcats the 8-0 advantage.

Woodbridge had a quick three-and-out on their ensuing possession, but after forcing a quick Howard punt they got the ball back near midfield and took advantage of the short field.

Cannon’s 38-yard touchdown run on the fourth play of the drive put the Blue Raiders on the board. After opting to go for the extra point try, the Blue Raiders trailed just 8-7 with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The two sides combined for four punts and a turnover on downs in the scoreless second quarter.

Ricky Kane of Woodbridge breaks this tackle attempt by Howard’s Kevin Ignudo for a big gain.

Williams’ TD catch and Howard’s successful two-point conversion at the 8:21 mark of the third quarter extended the Wildcats’ lead to 16-7, but Woodbridge’s offense orchestrated a long scoring drive on the ensuing possession to cut into the deficit.

Starting at their own 29, the Blue Raiders drove the ball near midfield and, after a 15-yard penalty against Howard, opted to use Kane in the Wildcat for the remainder of the drive.

Kane’s 32 rushing yards on the drive, including a two-yard run on fourth and short and the two-yard score, and the two-point conversion from senior quarterback Dalton Perdue helped Woodbridge pull to within one point with 3:59 remaining in the third quarter.

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