Woodridge football goes down fighting in opener vs. Field

Tom Nader
Correspondent
Woodride quarterback Ben Kiser (2)  looks for a block from lineman Allistair Larson (76) during the Bulldogs' 27-19 home loss to Field Aug. 29.

With 2:47 on the clock, a narrow 20-19 lead and the ball resting on Woodridge’s 24-yard line, Field was faced with a critical fourth-and-11.

There was never any doubt the Falcons would go for it.

During a timeout, Falcons offensive coordinator Joe Peterson highlighted the play he wanted: Empty Left Tight 600 Slice.

Head coach Matt Furino admitted it was not his call of choice, but he put his trust in Peterson.

Meanwhile, Peterson put his trust in assistant coach Caleb Wohlwend.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the play call, but Coach P wanted it, and I trusted him,” Furino said. “Then Coach P trusted Caleb, because Caleb said, ‘Hey, I think if we make an adjustment, we have a better chance for the safety not to be there.’”

The tweak worked.

Quarterback Dallas McAmis stood in the pocket and took a hit to the ribs, but delivered a pass to Zack Davis, who was in the seam and made a diving catch to haul in the 15-yard gain.

McAmis waltzed into the end zone on the following play to give the Falcons a 27-19 lead with 2:03 to play.

A defensive stand on Woodridge’s final possession turned the score into the final Aug. 29 at Lahoski Field in a game that had been postponed by thunderstorms  the night before.

It was also the first game for both teams in the inaugural season of the Metro Athletic Conference.

“I told Zack that big players make big plays,” Furino said, “and boy did Zack make a big play on that fourth down.”

To make the catch, an outstretched Davis had left his feet and gone nearly parallel with the ground beneath him to sneak enough fingers around the nose of the ball to pull it to his body.

It sent an emotion through Furino.

“I am so proud of our kids,” he said. “This is a team that lost a lot of games in the second half last year, and we have been telling them that we don’t want to be a team that lets opponents beat us in the fourth quarter. And we had so many players step up today in big spots. Hats off to Woodridge, they gave us everything they had today.”

Wooridge running back Dayshawn Garr sheds a Field tackler during the Bulldogs' 27-19 home loss to Field Aug. 29 at Lahoski Field.

While the statistical outputs (341 yards to 206) and time of possession would have seemingly place the game in Field’s favor in a more considerable way, the Bulldogs went step for step with the Falcons for the entire game — even holding leads of 7-6 and 13-12.

“We hung tough today with a talented, senior-led Field team,” Woodridge head coach Jeff Decker said. “I am proud of the way we played. The amount of improvement I saw from our scrimmage with Aurora to today was incredible. If we make that same jump into Week 2, good things will happen for us.”

At halftime, the Bulldogs (0-1) held a 7-6 lead on a second-quarter (2:22) touchdown pass from Ben Kiser to David Thompson from 18 yards out. The score eclipsed a first-quarter, 12-yard TD run by Field’s Zack Davis.

As the teams warmed up for the third quarter, Furino could be heard communicating to his players, “We want to be a second half team!”

The Falcons (1-0) immediately responded to his motivational reminder.

Field’s defense forced a three-and-out by bursting off the line of scrimmage to get into the Bulldogs’ backfield. Field’s offense promptly took possession and marched down the field to score on Nick Dopkosky’s 21-yard Jet Sweep that was aided by Bryson Silveus’ down-field blocking.

The score gave Field a 12-7 lead, but it was short lived as the Bulldogs answered back with 5-yard pass-and-catch from Kiser to Jacob Nelson to regain the lead at 13-12 with 4:29 showing on the third-quarter clock.

The score carried into the fourth quarter, but not for long as Field took a 18-13 lead on a 5-yard run by McAmis, who then also ran in the 2-point conversion for a 20-13 lead with 10:30 to play. Woodridge made it 20-19 at 5:35 on Kiser’s third touchdown pass of the game — this time finding Nelson from 23 yards out.

However, the extra point missed to allow Field to hold onto the lead that it extended to 27-19 on its next possession to close out the game.

“Our guys never folded,” Furino said. “It is all about character. We know that we will make mistakes. Our players will make them, I will make them, our coaches will make them. Your true character shows up after you make a mistake and we saw some great character from our guys today.”

Field’s offense was run-heavy, with 318 of the team’s 341 yards coming on the ground.

McAmis led all ball-carriers with 145 yards on 24 carries. He scored two touchdowns. Davis ran 10 times for 61 yards and a score, while Dopkosky added 51 yards and a TD and Caden Contant had another 47 yards on just three carries.

In total, the Falcons averaged 7.1 yards per carry in the victory.

Woodridge’s statistical leader was Kiser, who completed seven of his 11 passes for 108 yards and was responsible for all three touchdown passes.

Kiser's top target was Nelson with 33 yards and two scores, while Kamari Mitchell also had three receptions for 57 yards.

On the ground, Dayshawn Garr carried 19 times for 73 yards for the Bulldogs.