HARRISONBURG – The Friday night’s lights were just a bit brighter than normal when Waynesboro’s football team took the field against Turner Ashby. The two schools met under the candlepower on the FieldTurf of James Madison University’s Bridgeforth Stadium.
Friday night’s match-up between the Little Giants and the Knights, won by Waynesboro 50-28, kicked off the inaugural Shenandoah Valley High School Football Classic. The decision to get local teams into Bridgeforth, the largest stadium in the NCAA’s Division I Colonial Athletic Conference, was made in August when several local athletic directors decided to use a weekend when JMU’s football team was away to borrow their field. On Friday and Saturday teams from Rockingham, Augusta and Shenandoah counties came together to play in the 25,000 seat stadium.
The Knights drew first blood three minutes into the first quarter when Michael De la Cruz ran 30 yards for the first touchdown of the night. Less than two minutes later the Little Giants answered when Dequiondre Clark ran 40 yards into the end zone. The Knights’ second drive ended with a Jadaciss Williams interception that gave the Little Giants the ball on TA’s 33-yard line. A touchdown pass caught by Clark in the end zone was lost to a penalty. The Giants fought back scoring on a 25-yard run from Jequintus Chambers. Thirty seconds later De la Cruz carried 67 yards for a TA touchdown. A stalled Waynesboro drive and a blocked punt left TA on the Little Giants’ 44-yard line at the quarter’s end.
In the second quarter the frenetic pace didn’t slow down. The ball was quickly back in the Little Giant’s hands. Phillip Monterrozo ran 61 yards on a toss from quarterback DaJuan Moore to put the Little Giants ahead. Warner then marched the Knights down the field in a drive that ended with him carrying the ball in from four yards out. Marendon Jones carried 53 yards to put Waynesboro back ahead. The Little Giants held the Knights’ final drive of the half, heading into the locker room up six points.
Waynesboro started the second half with a drive that saw Jones catching a pass from Moore, which he ran into the end zone. The Knights marched down the field in response, Jake Capasso running the ball in from 13 yards out. The Giants held on to their lead when Jones completed the next drive by carrying the ball 26 yards for a touchdown.
In the final quarter Waynesboro finished off Turner Ashby with Luke Wells adding a field goal to the Little Giants’ total from 18 yards out. Moore sealed the deal when he ran the ball in from 36 yards out, ending the game with a Waynesboro 50-28 victory.
“I think our young kids were a little star struck. It’s a big place to play,” said Waynesboro head coach Derek McDaniel. “We made some adjustments at halftime and they got their feet under them.”
Were the purple and gold colors on the JMU field any advantage?
“Well, I’ll tell you it doesn’t hurt,” McDaniel said. “You walk in and you kind of feel at home.”
Last Friday, Waynesboro ended not only this season’s five-game losing streak, but a 19-year drought against Robert E. Lee, when they beat the Leemen by 17 points at home. Was the Lee game a turning point?
“We lost a tough game to Spotswood 21-20 and if we had a turning point, that might have been the game, “McDaniel said. “They’ve hung in there and we’re playing better and better and you’re starting to see sparks of us making big plays.”
The win leaves Waynesboro with a record of 3-5 for the season. They will take on Broadway next Friday at home. Turner Ashby falls to 4-3. The Knights will have a bye week next Friday, before returning to host Broadway in Bridgewater on Oct. 28.
Saturday will see three more local high school games play at Bridgeforth. At 12 p.m. Harrisonburg goes head-to-head with Broadway, followed by an East Rockingham/Stonewall Jackson match-up at 3 p.m. The Classic will end with the Fort Defiance and Spotswood game at 6 p.m. Fans can watch all three Saturday games for one $10 ticket.
TURNER ASHBY 14 7 7 0 — 28
WAYNESBORO 13 14 14 9 — 50
TA – De la Cruz 30 run (Zimbardi kick)
WAY – Clark 40 run (Wells kick)
WAY – Chambers 25 run
TA – De la Cruz 67 run (Zimbardi kick)
WAY – Monterrozo 61 pass (Wells kick)
TA – Warner 4 run (Zimbardi kick)
WAY – Jones 53 run (Wells kick)
WAY – Jones 20 pass (Wells kick)
TA – Capasso 13 run (Zimbardi kick)
WAY – Jones 26 run (Wells kick)
WAY – Wells field goal 18
WAY – Moore 36 run