HOMEWOOD - Eight forced turnovers and a quick attack off the defensive line helped John Carroll Catholic High School take control of the game Friday and cruise to a 26-6 Class 5A, Region 4 win over Woodlawn in front of a homecoming crowd at Pat Sullivan Field.
The win, the Cavs’ first of the season, snapped a seven-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 13 last year.
“It was great for these kids and great for our program. It’s what we needed. It puts a little more pep in their step for next week. We’ve got such a young team, to get that taste of a victory, especially at home on homecoming is something they’ll never forget,” said third-year John Carroll head coach Logan Colafrancesco.
John Carroll (1-4) came out firing, as sophomore quarterback Nicholas Sellers hit Aaron Mason on a 42-yard pass on the opening play of the game. It set the tone for the first series of the night as Sellers connected on his first three passes, including an 11-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-11 after being backed up from a third-and-goal at the 1 situation.
The early 6-0 lead was the Cavaliers first points since a Week 1 loss at Leeds.While Sellers threw an interception on his next possession and was held three-and-out on the Cavs’ third series, John Carroll found the end zone again with 10:34 to play in the first quarter on a 50-yard pass to D’Wuan Williams, who was covered up most of the night. Sellers’ 2-point pass to Cull was good to make it 14-0.
The second scoring series was set up by a fumble return by sophomore linebacker Spencer Drouin – the first of four fumble recoveries by the Cavs.Woodlawn (1-4) attempted to answer with a deep attack, but Luke Harris picked off a Justin Hendrix pass at the Cavs 10. However, John Carroll gave it back three plays later on a fumble recovered by Woodlawn’s Broderick Jones.
Hendrix used his legs to finish the drive, covering 12 yards in two plays for the Colonels’ only touchdown with 2:05 to play in the half.
John Carroll added some cushion before the half. Faced with fourth-and-15 at the Woodlawn 31, the Cavs were aided by 25 yards worth of penalties, including two pass interference calls, to move inside the 10. However, offensive pass interference pushed them back to the 21, where Sellers connected again on a deep second-and-goal pass to Mark Richard with three seconds remaining. The Cavs led 20-6 at the half.
In the second half, Woodlawn moved into John Carroll territory five times, but turned the ball over on downs three of those times. The other two were thwarted by interceptions from Zach Elliott on back-to-back possessions. Elliott also added a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter, as did Campbell McFadden.
McFadden’s recovery came on a punt, which gave John Carroll new life to set up its final scoring drive. Sellers was 2-of-2 on the short, 37-yard drive, capping it with a 5-yard touchdown to Richard to go up 26-6.
The sophomore QB finished the night with a season-high 250 yards and four touchdowns on 50-percent passing (17-of-34).
“It was a really good win. We had a lot of leadership in this game. Everyone was on task,” Sellers said of the night.
Late in the fourth quarter, John Carroll failed to close out another fourth-and-goal situation, which coupled with three lost fumbles and a few penalties as the main miscues of the night, which could have added more points to the board.
“We made some mistakes at critical times, but we were able to overcome it,” Colafrancesco said. “Defensively, I’m really proud of how we played. We swarmed the football. Offensively, we moved the ball. We had some mishaps here and there, but it’s something that’s correctable. Our kids fought hard, and that’s all you can ask for … I’m happy for our kids. I’m happy for our program. I’m happy for our fans and alumni.”
John Carroll collected 301 yards of total offense in the win, while holding Woodlawn to 195, largely due to the defensive line pressure of Lawrence Johnson and Gabe Wood, who had more than nine tackles and two quarterback hurries. Wood also had two sacks.
“They lined up too wide, they left those open gaps and we took advantage of it every time,” Wood said. “It feels amazing (to get the win). We’re finally on the books. We finally did something good.”
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