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Oceanside too much for Woodland, earns Lower State title berth

Friday night’s Class AA playoff game between Woodland and Oceanside Collegiate determined one of two Lower State finalists. A huge game for sure.

As big as the game was for both teams, the pregame atmosphere was dominated by the tragic death of former Woodland wide receiver Lavel Davis Jr., a University of Virginia player who was shot and killed last Sunday night, along with two other Cavaliers players.

Davis’ last game at Woodland in 2019 came in a playoff loss to Oceanside Collegiate. Davis was again on the hearts and minds of both teams.

A moment of silence, with Davis’ picture on the video board of Johnson Hagood stadium, was observed by both teams. Woodland honored its former player with University of Virginia and Wolverine helmet decals.

Although the final outcome went the way of Oceanside Collegiate, 59-18, the Wolverines played in honor of a former player who was still very much part of the program.

“Every time he was back home, he was always at Woodland,” Woodland head coach Eddie Ford said. “All of our kids knew him. Everyone knew him. We have talked all week about honoring him tonight.”

Oceanside Collegiate (11-1) will play at Andrew Jackson next Friday night with the winner advancing to the Class AA state championship game. Woodland’s season ends with an 11-2 record.

Oceanside Collegiate scored the first 36 points of the game before Woodland was able to find some success late in the third quarter.

Landsharks head coach Chad Wilkes knew Woodland would be playing with tons of emotion and felt a good start by his team was crucial.

“We always want to start fast but tonight was important that we tried to gain control of the game early on,” Wilkes said. “We knew they were a good team. They have a ton of athletes. We came out and won the line of scrimmage. That’s our strength, up front, and those kids did a great job.”

The Landsharks used a strong running game, buoyed by the return of senior running back Vaughn Blue. Blue missed six weeks of time with an injury but looked in fine form during a 22-point first half. Blue rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown and added 53 yards on two pass receptions.

Junior quarterback Edward Reidenbach added rushing touchdowns of one and eight yards in the first half.

The game was decided early in the third quarter. The Landsharks scored on their first possession of the period on Trey Brown’s six-yard run. Minutes later, Jace Kraftchick recovered a fumble and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown and a 36-0 lead with 8:41 left.

Woodland finally cracked the scoreboard later in the third on Sudarian Harrison’s 54-yard pass to Javion Neals, making the score 36-6.

But the Landsharks answered in three plays as Blue took a short pass from Reidenbach and ran 48 yards to the end zone and a 44-6 lead with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

Blue finished his night with 132 rushing yards and 101 receiving yards on three catches.

Harrison and Neals combined on a 74-yard touchdown pass just seconds later, and Woodland trailed 44-12 with 4:17 to play in the third. Reidenbach added a six-yard run with 16 seconds remaining in the third, pushing the lead to 52-12.

The Wolverines continued to show a fighting spirit in the fourth quarter. Harrison and Neals combined on a third touchdown, this from four yards out, for the Wolverines final score of the night.

“Our kids never stopped fighting but we lost to a better team tonight,” Ford said. “We knew they were good before tonight. They proved why they are the No. 1 team in the state.

“It was a really tough week for a lot of reasons. Hopefully next week we can exhale a little.”