West Potomac holds off Lake Braddock to improve to 2-0

Daiimon Cleveland run

Daiimon Cleveland bowls over a Lake Braddock defender in the third quarter of the Wolverines’ 28-26 win on Friday night.

West Potomac defeated Lake Braddock 28-26 Friday night, the Wolverines first win against the rival Bruins since 2007.

The Wolverines shot out to a 21-6 halftime lead behind an offensive attack led by senior running back Daiimon Cleveland, who ran for two touchdowns, and senior quarterback Tanner Jones, who threw for a third. In the second half, the Wolverine defense was the story, as West Potomac players made clutch play after clutch play to hang on for the win.

The victory was a long time coming for West Potomac. Prior to this season the two schools were in the same district and played regularly, with Lake Braddock usually getting the better of the Wolverines. The past two seasons were particularly excruciating, with the Wolverines losing by three points in each game, including an overtime game-winner in 2016.

“It’s a big win for us,” Wolverine coach Jeremiah Ross said, noting that the Bruins were the only regular season opponent that West Potomac had not been able to conquer during his four years as coach. “This was the last one we hadn’t gotten.”

To secure the win, the Wolverines had to overcome a Bruin passing attack led by quarterback Jack Darcy, as well as a number of self-inflicted errors and some questionable penalties — including one that negated a 74-yard touchdown run by Cleveland at the end of the third quarter that would have all but sealed the win.

Ultimately, it all came down to junior Marvin Lucero breaking up a two-point conversion attempt with less than a minute left to seal the victory — one of two huge fourth-quarter stands by the Wolverine defense.

“A little more dramatic than it needed to be,” Ross said of the win. “We had to make a big play there at the end with the two-point conversion … the kids rose up when we had to make plays.”

The final stop was necessary only due to a Wolverine fumble inside their own 10-yard line while leading 28-20. Moments before the fumble, senior defensive back Waddell Dailey had broken up a pass in the end zone on 4th and goal to seemingly seal the game.

Lucero’s and Dailey’s big plays were the final clutch moments for a defense that often bent, but rarely broke against Lake Braddock’s high-powered passing attack. Lucero had one interception while cornerback Al-ameen Baidoo had another.

Fellow defensive back Marquise Groomes, a senior, had one of the biggest plays of the game in the third quarter when he made a huge hit at the goal line to stop a two-point conversion after the Bruins had cut the score to 21-12.

Ross said that play was emblematic of the attitude his staff has tried to instill in the program.

Instead of our guys being down and dejected by [the touchdown] they competed for that point and made a heck of play right there at the pylon,” Ross said. “That’s a two point swing … [if we don’t make that play] they’re kicking an extra point for the win at the end.”

West Potomac got its first points of the night behind Cleveland’s running and receiving. After a Lake Braddock field goal, Cleveland accounted for most of the yards on West Potomac’s second possession and capped a long drive with a one-yard TD run.

Lake Braddock would kick another field goal after the Wolverine D tightened in the red zone — a theme throughout the night. On West Potomac’s next possession, senior quarterback Tanner Jones found senior receiver DeAndre Webb in stride for a long touchdown pass punctuated by Webb’s amazing escape of a tackle near the goal line.

Another touchdown by Cleveland — and Baidoo’s red zone interception after Lake Braddock blocked a punt deep in Wolverine territory –would make it a 21-6 West Potomac heading into the half.

Lake Braddock came out and scored on the first possession of the second half, but failed to convert the two-point conversion thanks to Groomes’ big tackle.

On West Potomac’s ensuing possession, Jones would connect with tight end Zack Monson for a TD that would eventually prove to be the decisive points.

Monson, a senior captain for the Wolverines, had a monster game on both sides of the ball. He had a 52-yard catch and run in the second quarter among his other receptions and was all over the field on defense. He had two sacks, four defensed passes and multiple tackles for losses.

But perhaps his biggest play came late in the third quarter when the Wolverines made another key red zone stop on defense. Monson pealed off a blocker on fourth down and delivered a crushing hit to end another Braddock drive with no points.

Hawks, Majors improve to 2-0

Hayfield and Mount Vernon were both winners on Friday night, improving their records to 2-0.

Hayfield beat Edison 55-13 in the annual “Bird Bowl” between the two schools. It was another impressive offensive showing for the Hawks, who scored 55 points in the season opener against Chantilly. Trevor Gleason had two touchdown passes for Hayfield while running back Josh Nsiah scored twice for the Hawks.

Mount Vernon is 2-0 for the second straight season, beating Langley 37-18 in the Majors home opener. Senior slotback Darrien Newton had two touchdowns to lead the Majors.