FINAL (W/VIDEO): Al-Hameed's 3 touchdowns not enough against StillwaterA breakout game by Woodbury running back Quran Al-Hameed wasn’t enough Friday, Aug. 31, as the Royals ended Week 1 in the same place they did a year ago – with a loss to Stillwater.
By: Mike Longaecker, Woodbury Bulletin
A breakout game by Woodbury running back Quran Al-Hameed wasn’t enough Friday, Aug. 31, as the Royals ended Week 1 in the same place they did a year ago – with a loss to Stillwater.
Stillwater football coach Beau LaBore, who left Woodbury after the 2010 season, got his Ponies off to another 1-0 start with a 20-18 win at Royals Stadium.
Woodbury gave itself a chance to win with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter after a rousing march up the field that conquered three fourth-down situations with less than a minute to play.
But Woodbury junior kicker Colton Johnson missed on a 32-yard field goal attempt that would have likely clinched the game.
Woodbury head coach Andy Hill said going for the field goal was not a lock, even with time running out. Johnson had missed an extra point earlier in the game.
“In every kicking situation, I consider a fake,” Hill said, noting that the team had attempted a fake field goal on the same drive with 12 seconds left.
He said he made the decision after a quick consultation with the kicking unit.
“I didn’t question it after they said they had faith in it,” Hill said, adding that he suspected the kick fell short due to the ball going flat on the kick. “It had to have popped.”
Things couldn’t have looked more promising for the Royals, however, right out of the chute.
Woodbury’s first play from scrimmage resulted in Quran Al-Hameed breaking off an 80-yard touchdown run that gave the Royals a 6-0 lead that held through the first quarter.
“We thought we’d house that one,” Hill said of the play.
Al-Hameed would finish with two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. He gained 207 yards on 19 carries and finished with 238 all-purpose yards.
“He’s got a lot of desire,” Hill said of the senior running back.
Stillwater returned the favor with 7:19 remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Nate Ricci connected with wide receiver Jeff Petersen on a 63-yard touchdown pass. The Ponies took a 7-6 lead after the play.
But Woodbury threw a counterpunch three minutes later when Al-Hameed punched through to the end zone, returning the lead to Woodbury at 12-7.
Woodbury’s defense recorded its only turnover of the game with 40 seconds left in the half when defensive back Jake Schaffer picked off a Ricci pass deep in Royals territory.
The pick preserved the 12-7 lead at the half.
The second half opened with Woodbury’s defense denying a Stillwater scoring attempt. The Ponies made it as far as the Woodbury two yard line, but were stuffed on a fourth-and-goal try.
When the Royals took over on downs, they struggled to move the ball, eventually facing a fourth down deep in their own territory.
But instead of punting, the Royals employed a flea-flicker play from Woodbury’s end zone that saw backup quarterback Matt Condon connecting with tight end Ryan Winter. The Royals gained 45 yards on the play, though they eventually settled to punt as the drive died out.
Senior quarterback Sawyer Moon handled all punting duties Friday for the Royals. On the passing side, Moon was 14-for-27 for 218 yards – the most of any SEC quarterback in Week 1.
Stillwater got back on the board on the following possession when running back Nick Anderson rushed in a 27-yard touchdown. The Royals’ Abiola Abodunde blocked Stillwater’s extra-point attempt.
Abodunde, a standout defensive back and Division I prospect, left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a shot to the head. Hill said the head injury didn’t appear serious.
“He looks OK,” the coach said after the game.
After the scoring drive, Stillwater attempted a successful onside kick that proved critical. After recovering the ball at the Woodbury 29 yard line, Stillwater found paydirt on the drive with Anderson’s second rushing touchdown of the game.
An extra point put the Ponies up 20-12.
The fourth quarter began with an Al-Hameed rushing assault. After two big Al-Hameed runs that put Woodbury at the Stillwater 32 yard line, Royals quarterback Sawyer Moon got his team even closer after finding receiver Chrisitian Alvarado on a 25-yard play.
Facing fourth and goal at the three yard line, Moon threw a touchdown to Al-Hameed. A two-point conversion attempt was stuffed, leaving the score at 20-18.
In need of a big stop, Woodbury’s defense stepped up, giving the Royals offense a last chance to score with 3:13 left to play with the ball at their own four yard line.
“We fought back,” Hill said.
Moon shined during the final drive, converting fourth down after fourth down. A pass to receiver Reid Peters and a run by Al-Hameed put the ball at the Stillwater 39 with 46 seconds left.
On fourth-and-10, Moon threw a strike to receiver Quinten Strub with 17 seconds left and the ball at Stillwater’s 20 yard line.
Woodbury attempted a fake field goal with 13 seconds on the clock, where receiver Matt Wallgren attempted a pass to Moon that sailed out of bounds.
The Royals induced a five-yard penalty on fourth down, setting up the Johnson field goal attempt with seven seconds left. The kick landed just short of the goal post.
The loss leaves his Royals at 0-1 for the season and 0-1 in the Suburban East Conference.
After the game, he praised players for not giving up after falling behind.
“We were ready. Our kids were focused. They had energy,” he said.
Woodbury returns to the field Friday, Sept. 7, at Hastings.