Adam Cash saw the pressure that the Mansfield Timberview defensive line was applying on Woodrow Wilson quarterback Sam Fennegan.
The Wolves overpowered the Wildcats’ offensive line, overwhelmed Fennegan with multiple defenders in his face and he was forced into an errant throw in the second quarter that Cash intercepted and returned 40 yards for a touchdown. It was the first of two pick-sixes that Timberview recorded on the night in a 50-14 romp of Wilson in the District 6-5A opener for both teams Thursday at Vernon Newsom Stadium.
“First off, I want to give good thanks to my defensive line,” Cash said. “They did a great job getting pressure. But, I was just doing my job looking at the flats first and then reading the quarterback’s eyes. It was right there and I took it the house.”
Timberview and Wilson honored Mansfield Lake Ridge defensive coordinator Billy Smith with a moment of silence prior to kickoff after he died Wednesday following a three-year battle with cancer.
Wilson had a promising opening drive. Fennegan connected with Evan Blackmon on pass plays of 6 yards, 22 and 6 to move the ball inside Timberview territory, and Fennegan later ran the option 15 yards to the Wolves 19.
But Timberview increased its defensive pressure, forcing three consecutive plays of negative yardage before Cash recovered a fumble on a strip-sack of Fennegan to force a turnover.
Timberview turned that fumble into points when Wolves starting quarterback Jaden Hullaby burst 41 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter.
“It was big,” Timberview coach James Brown said. “I don’t think we played a clean game early, early on. We kind of stepped it on as the quarter went along and into the second.
“It was just a weird atmosphere today. It was a Thursday night game, early game, really flat. The electricity in the stadium was flat. It was really quiet early. I felt like we played a little flat early. But the defense played well in the first and all the way into the third.”
Wilson committed its second fumble in the first quarter on the second play of its next drive which was recovered by Timberview’s Demondre Green and converted into a 19-yard touchdown run three plays later by Montaye Dawson for a 13-0 Wolves lead.
Mileek Gipson did his best to keep Wilson (0-4, 0-1 District 5-6A) within striking distance with a pair of interceptions within a four-minute span. However, the Wildcats went three-and-out on offense after his first pick, and Cash returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown shortly after Gipson’s second INT.
Cash’s score and Darnell Jones’ subsequent run on a 2-point conversion play gave the Wolves a 21-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter.
“He’s unreal,” Brown said of Cash. “He’s just a really good kid. Adam does a great job of knowing where he needs to be and what his assignment is.”
Raam Stevenson had Timberview’s other pick-six. He corralled a ball in the air that was forced out of Fennegan’s hands on a strip-sack by Josh Gilliam on a fourth-down play in Wolves territory late in the third quarter and ran down the sideline 73 yards for the score and a 35-0 Timberview lead.
“To be honest, I didn’t see it until he started to run down the field,” Cash said. “It was incredible seeing my man run the sideline and do his thing.”
Timberview (2-2, 1-0) led by as much as 42-0 following Deuce Jones’ 6-yard touchdown run with 1:13 remaining in the third quarter.
The Wolves received a balanced contribution from its tailbacks. Stacy Sneed had a few long runs on his way to a team-high 91 rushing yards on just five carries with a touchdown. Hullaby added 76 yards on eight carries. Dawson ran for 52 yards and a score. Jones tacked on 42 yards on four carries.
Timberview finished with 311 rushing yards to just 124 for Wilson, including zero in the first half.
“Our guys up front on the defensive line have gotten better through the course of the year up front,” Brown said. “We felt like part of our strength is up front with our front seven.”
Fennegan threw for 154 yards in defeat, including a 34-yard touchdown pass to Gipson, who already had two interceptions on defense for the Wildcats.
Timberview will look to earn its third consecutive next Friday against in-town rival Mansfield Legacy while Wilson searches for its first win of 2019 at home against Highland Park on the same night.