STOCKBRIDGE — The Stockbridge Tigers had everything to lose if they overlooked the Woodland Wolfpack, but it just didn’t happen Friday. The seventh-ranked Tigers seemed to toy with the Wolfpack in a comfortable 34-7 victory that had very few anxious moments.
From the touchdown on their first play from scrimmage, to the exclamation-point score with 2:30 left, it was Stockbridge all the way.
The Tigers’ winning streak reached seven games since an opening night 23-0 loss to ever-tough M.L. King, while the Wolfpack’s flickering hopes of a region play-in game for a playoff spot took a serious hit. The Tigers’ defense has been the story during the winning streak, allowing an average of just 11 points per game, and it was no different on this night.
Stockbridge (7-1, 3-0 in 4A-AAAA) held Woodland to just 43 rushing yards and 145 total yards. Woodland (2-6, 1-2) was forced to punt seven times, four times after a three-and-out.
On the Wolfpack’s first three possessions, they gained just 9 yards. On Stockbridge’s first play, Maetron Thomas took the hand-off and blew through the Woodland defense for a 67-yard touchdown run. Later, Woodland fumbled a punt and the Tigers recovered. Tigers quarterback Trent Earl tossed the first of his three touchdown passes, a 22-yard scoring strike to Thomas with 9:13 left in the first half, and the Tigers led 13-0.
The only flicker of suspense came when Woodland put up its best drive after the ensuing kickoff. Thirteen plays, 64 yards, and 5:15 of the second-quarter clock, and quarterback Taylor Poff dove in from the 1 to make the score 13-7. The Wolfpack managed to stop the Tigers, but they were unable to move the ball.
Stockbridge scored the back-breaker with 5.3 seconds left in the first half after five straight completions by Earl, the fifth an 11-yard strike to Nigel Hughes. Stockbridge led 20-7 at the half.
Woodland’s futility was best exemplified in its next drive, when the ’Pack committed four penalties for 30 yards in five plays. That futility followed a nine-play drive by Stockbridge, in which the Tigers took a 27-7 lead on a second touchdown pass from Earl to Hughes, this one 34 yards.
Stockbridge put the exclamation point on the effort when running back Malik Bryan ran in from the 8 with 2:30 left to play. The outcome was really never in doubt, despite Woodland’s game efforts.
Poff, scrambling for his life on several occasions, led Woodland in rushing with only 28 yards on 10 carries. Poff completed 15 of 24 passes, but most of the passes were short tosses, depending upon the receiver for yards after catch. Ricardo Murphy and Darrow Ramsey each caught six balls. Jai Webb was a force on defense for Woodland, making 10 tackles.
Bryan was busy in the second half (13 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown) and finished the contest with 20 runs for 144 yards. Earl was efficient all night, completing 11 of 17 passes for 149 yards. Thomas caught four passes for 60 yards, giving him 137 all-purpose yards. Cameron Gordon led the Tigers defense with five tackles.
One problem the Tigers will need to address if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs is penalties — they had nine for 90 yards.