With approximately 22 seconds left in the 45th Annual D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA) Turkey Bowl, H.D. Woodson clung desperately to a 16-12 lead over Ballou, who had just blocked a Woodson punt to take excellent field position.
Ballou senior quarterback Tirri Jones threw a deep pass into the end zone, but Woodson sophomore cornerback Charles Peeler intercepted the ball to seal the Warriors’ second straight Turkey Bowl victory on Nov. 27 at Eastern High School in Washington, D.C.
“We started off slow, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to finish fast,” Peeler told reporters after the game. “The trust I have in my team is tremendous.”
Woodson got off to a shaky start in the first half, as senior quarterback Rashad Cooper threw three interceptions before completing his second pass. Cooper nonetheless found a way to score with a one-yard quarterback sneak in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Ballou’s defense continued to show its power when junior Delontae Moore intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown. Woodson led Ballou, 7-6, at halftime.
In the third quarter, Ballou’s signature running game showed up. Led by senior Done’ Butler and freshman Martin Johnson, the Knights generated a two-play, 84-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 38-yard scoring run from Johnson.
With Ballou leading by five points heading into the fourth quarter, Woodson needed to finish strong. Cooper capitalized on a turnover by completing a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Antonio Shaw that put Woodson up 14-12.
With a little over five minutes left in the game, a safety gave Woodson a 16-12 lead over Ballou. Peeler’s interception in the final seconds secured the victory.
Senior Dymir Stone was a key factor in Woodson’s win. Moving away from its usual pass-heavy offense, Woodson relied on the run game to move the ball against Ballou’s defense. Stone finished with 27 carries for 144 yards.
The Thanksgiving Day win advanced Woodson to the D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA championship on Dec. 6, where they will meet the winner of a semifinal matchup between Friendship Collegiate Academy and Gonzaga.