When junior Andy Boone allowed a booming punt to bounce over his head and roll end over end toward his own goal line, it was symbolic of Oakton’s underestimation of their feisty crosstown rivals. However, what Boone did after going back and scooping up the ball, turned the tides as the Cougars cruised to an easy victory in front of hundreds of fans in Vienna’s prestigious Outback Bowl.
Oakton thought they had struck first on an interception return in the first minute of the game, but it was called back on a penalty. The Warhawks then went 61 yards on the next play for the score. A surprise onsides kick gave Madison another possession, and they added a field goal.
“Give credit to their coaching staff, they came out really aggressive, but our guys were never worried,” said Coach Jason Rowley. "I felt a little adversity was good for us, and the guys responded well."
An Oakton interception by senior linebacker C.J. Reimann, this time with no flag, gave quarterback Tuck Masker a short field. Masker wasted no time completing a beautiful over-the-shoulder throw to Steven Lambrides to get the Cougars on the board.
The defense forced a punt, and Boone struck, turning a botched return into something truly special, beating a handful of oncoming tacklers wide right, then cutting back with a series of jukes, before racing 76 yards for the go-ahead score.
Toward the end of the first half, up four points, Coach Rowley made a risky decision to go for it on 4th and 11 in field goal range, and was rewarded with another great throw from Masker, this time to Ryan Santoro in the back corner of the end zone.
“Well, first of all our kicker is injured,” Rowley said. “But I also thought we had a good play to call and a great chance to score.”
The extra point was blocked and the Cougars headed into the halftime break up 27-17, and they were determined to add to it in the second half.
In their first possession, the Cougars fed junior running Mike Wandey. With a muscular bowling ball stauture, Wandy, who finished with 174 yards rushing, made the Warhawks look like pins, parrying them off in every direction as he made his way down the field and eventually into the end zone.
“We really wanted to establish the run game, especially in the second half,” Rowley said. “And Wandey is a great player.”
A minor nick to Masker brought on backup QB Kyle Downer who was set on putting on a show of his own. Downer capped his first drive off with a 5-yard TD scamper, then topped that with a 70-yard touchdown dash down the sideline.
“Kyle put together a nice little game,” Rowley said of his backup. “Both quarterbacks are such outstanding competitiors, and they both played well tonight.”
The defense shut out the Warhawks in the second half, and Reimann came up with another interception, this time on a fake punt, and took it to the house to seal the victory, as the Cougars ran the Warhawks right out of the stadium with a 55-17 victory.
“We have a great group of seniors who played as sophomores,” Rowley said. “They learned a few things then and have really come together with a great group of complementary players.”
Oakton’s next test will be against South County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.