Tigers shut out Monarchs in second straight rivalry win
Woodlake defeats Exeter for the second year in a row, shutting them out 24-0 to retain the Valencia Cup
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
WOODLAKE – “Woodlake 24, Exeter nothing!”
Those were a few tough words to hear exclaimed over the Woodlake PA system at Painter Robinson Stadium in Woodlake on Friday night. The Monarchs put no points on the board, which was evident by the final, but they had trouble creating enough momentum to even get in striking distance.
But the Exeter versus Woodlake rivalry game was not so much defined by the score as much as each team’s ability to rebound from mistakes. The game was littered with yellow laundry from the first drive.
For Woodlake’s first offensive snaps, they had three critical penalties. The worst of which was on a 25-yard strike from Tiger quarterback Damian Hernandez to Luis Lopez up the seam in the middle of the defense. On third and long Hernandez hit Lopez again, only this time he slipped out of bounds at the one yard line. Senior Chase Wallace did some clean up work by plunging into the end zone for the score. Hernandez went on to cap off the score with a two-point conversion where he hit Hector Magana on a fade route that went right over Exeter cornerback, Teneil Nickols’ hands. There wasn’t much Nickols could have done, it was a well thrown ball that was precisely placed.
According to Hernandez, him and his receivers were leaving nothing to chance in preparation for rivalry week.
“Actually, we started off with heavy film for two hours a day…got with the receivers to create some connections and then came out with a game plan,” Hernandez said.
Where Woodlake was rebounding from unforced errors, Exeter couldn’t get beyond their first play of the game without a foul. Despite a good kick return to around the 40 yard line, the Monarchs had to march backwards because of a holding call. Exeter managed to get a first down but on an ensuing third and long, Woodlake’s linebacker Joshua Padilla put a bone crushing blindside hit on quarterback Chris Lopez.
Woodlake went down the field and scored again, this time on a 17-yard touchdown pass to Victor Magana, who had to grab the ball by reaching over the head of an Exeter defender. That was Hernandez first of two touchdown passes on the game to go along with his 21 completions for 227 yards. Woodlake hit another two-point conversion to go up 16-0 before the end of the first quarter.
Exeter’s kick return was forced back once again because of a penalty, and then to make matters worse Monarch quarterback, Lopez, threw the ball to the wrong team on the second play from scrimmage. It was Dael Vega’s first of three interceptions, and the Tiger’s first of five turnovers. The Interception return set Woodlake up at the Exeter 30 yard line.
Fortunately, Exeter held the Tigers on an eventual fourth down try early in the second quarter, and took over on down at their own 17. But they couldn’t generate any momentum because of holding, missed snaps and blown blocking assignments, and they were forced to punt. Only down by two scores, Exeter saw some glimmer of hope when their defense managed to hold Woodlake once again. When Exeter got the ball back, Lopez began to put the Monarch offense into a rhythm. And as they approached midfield, Lopez gave Vega his second interception of the game when he tried to hit a wheel route that wasn’t open. Vega returned it to the Woodlake 47.
Defensive penalties began to stack up. A momentum shifting sack was taken away after a face mask call. Then on fourth and eight, Exeter defensive tackle Juan Contreras ripped off Woodlake quarterback Hernandez’s helmet in what would have otherwise been a sack and turnover on downs. On the same drive, Exeter was called for encroachment. Trying to stem the tide of Tiger scores, Exeter managed to chase Hernandez out of the pocket and force an errant pass to the end zone on fourth down. But because of a defensive holding call, Woodlake got a new set of downs.
Soon after, Hernandez connected with Hector for an over the shoulder touchdown grab. Woodlake followed up with a two point conversion to go up 24-0.
“It happens. Kids get their hands in the wrong spots and they’re critical [penalties],” Exeter head coach Keirsten Lamb exclaimed after the game. “Just little things, we shot ourselves in the foot.”
Second half ran at a slower pace for Woodlake as they tried to play keep away from Exeter and drain as much of the clock as they could. Exeter on the other hand tried to throw their way back into the game and crossed into the red zone twice, but came away empty. Lamb says his team needs to find a way to respond if they want to get back to a form where they walloped Farmersville 62-0.
“Football is a game of adversity. It’s emotional and everything that could happen in a football game happened to us tonight…and when you get knocked on your can you need to get up and find out how that happened and not let that happen again,” Lamb said.
Woodlake head coach Jeff Johnson on the other hand was short for words after beating Exeter for the second year in a row. Instead he gave praise to his offensive field general, Hernandez.
“I think what I’m most proud of is the last couple of minutes my quarterback was coming up to me extremely upset that we weren’t executing the way they are supposed to…and that tells me that he wants it,” Johnson said.
Woodlake is going to welcome the Caruther’s Blue Raiders to the jungle this Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:15 p.m. It is their second to last non-league matchup before they play Lindsay on the road Sept. 20.
Exeter will be on the road once again as they travel down the road to Lindsay to take on the Cardinals, this Friday at 7:15 p.m.