QUICKSBURG — Playing in less than ideal conditions on the road against a winless underdog, Stuarts Draft still got the job done.
It just wasn’t real pretty.
Competing on a soggy and muddy field in the rain, the Cougars rode four first-half touchdowns and cruised to a 27-0 victory over Stonewall Jackson. It was the fifth straight win to start the season for the Cougars.
The field deteriorated as the game went on, making it tough for either team to move the football on a consistent basis.
“Both teams play in it, so I try to tell the kids don’t worry about it,” said Draft head coach Nathan Floyd. “Don’t let it affect your play, shorten up your steps a little bit and slow down just a hair. Otherwise, just continue to play, be physical and out-execute the opposing team.”
The wet field conditions did not seem to affect Carson Peck. The senior, who missed most of last season with an ACL injury, caught a touchdown pass, returned a punt for a score and intercepted a pass on defense.
“He’s worked hard in the offseason,” said Floyd of Peck. “He’s a good football player. He makes things easy on us.”
Izzy Johnson did the bulk of the offensive work early. Following a punt, Johnson ran 63 yards for a touchdown on Draft’s first play from scrimmage for a touchdown. William Wilkinson added the first of three PATs he would get on the night, giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.
Stuarts Draft needed six plays to score again after another Generals’ punt. Johnson took it the final four yards for his second TD, stretching the advantage to 13-0.
Peck handled the scoring in the second quarter. On fourth-and-goal from the Stonewall 19, Peck caught a pass in the right corner of the end zone from Garrett Campbell, stretching the margin to 20-0.
Less than four minutes later, Peck returned a punt 82 yards up the left sideline to make it a 27-0 game at the half.
The second half was a different story. After scoring on all three possessions in the first half, Draft punted twice and lost a pair of fumbles.
Despite the comfortable score, Floyd was not happy with the way his team played in the slop after the break.
“I think if affected our mental toughness,” said Floyd of the field conditions. “I think it got in our head a little bit when they started slipping and sliding. Unfortunately, it got to them mentally a little bit.”
The defense was solid throughout the contest, holding the Generals to just 50 yards of total offense. The Cougars forced seven punts and got two turnovers. Aside from the pick by Peck, Areian Sanders had a fumble recovery.
Johnson led the Draft offensive attack with 89 yards rushing on 10 carries. The Cougars had 220 total yards, with only 56 of them coming in the second half.
Up next for Stuarts Draft is a big showdown next Friday at home against Augusta County rival Buffalo Gap, the team that bounced them from the regionals last season.
STUARTS DRAFT 13 14 0 0 – 27
STONEWALL 0 0 0 0 – 0
SD – Johnson 63 run (Wilkinson kick)
SD – Johnson 4 run (pass failed)
SD – Peck 19 pass from Campbell (Wilkinson kick)
SD – Peck 82 punt return (Wilkinson kick)