Imhotep ends Archbishop Wood’s PIAA Class AAA domination

You could hear a pin drop in the Archbishop Wood huddle after Saturday’s District 12 Class AAA championship game against Imhotep Charter.
It was the first time in head coach Steve Devlin’s tenure that the season didn’t end with Wood capturing the district title as the Vikings fell to the Panthers 20-14.
Both Wood and Imhotep have been blowing teams out heading into their collision course Saturday afternoon. Through 11 games Wood’s average margin victory was 34.7 points per game and Imhotep a whopping 43.6 points per game. But the two teams found themselves locked up in a dogfight all afternoon.
“We knew coming in that this was going to be a four quarter game,” Devlin said.
It was Wood who got off to the quick start. After forcing Imhotep to go three-and-out while losing 14 yards the Wood offensive turned that into points as Anthony Russo hit Mark Webb for a 32-yard touchdown just over three minutes into the game.
“That’s how it’s been all year, we’ve got a great football team and they came out here and did what we asked them,” Devlin said the quick start.
It would take Imhotep until 2:37 before half to respond as Panthers quarterback Nasir Boykin hit Aamir Brown for a 22-yard touchdown with Mike Waters running in the two-point conversion to hand Wood its first halftime deficit of the season.
The Vikings responded scoring on the opening possession of the second half with a nine-play 72-yard drive culminating with a two-yard Shawn Thompson touchdown run. The drive also saw Russo complete all three of his pass attempts to three different receivers for 46 yards.
The play of the game came with 2:40 left in the third quarter. With Wood on the move, deep in Imhotep territory the Vikings ran a reverse play to Jordan Johnson. Johnson had one man to beat for what very likely would have been a Vikings touchdown. That man was Mike Crawford; he stripped Johnson, picked up the fumble and bolted 70 yards for an Imhotep touchdown. The score knotted the game up at 14-14 after the failed two-point attempt by the Panthers.
“We were just going to keep playing,” Devin said. “We had an unfortunate play out there when we were driving and it’s a shame.”
The next offensive drive for the Panthers netted yet another score as Water’s capped their drive with three-yard touchdown dive.
Wood then faced a gut-check moment as the offense got the ball back with 9:54 remaining. The drive started at its own 28-yard line. In six plays, aided by a couple of Panther penalties, the Vikings moved the ball down to the Imhotep 17-yard line.
It would appear the Vikings had the Panther’s right where they wanted them. The game winding down, on the move, with the ball in the program’s all-time leading passer’s and one of the top rated quarterbacks in state if not country hands.
“We were driving and its just two good football teams out playing until the end and they made a play on us,” Devlin said.
With a first and 10 from the 17 yard line, Russo was flushed to his right as rolled out he fired a pass toward the sideline where Imhotep defensive back Shyheem Shaw broke on the ball and made an incredible catch, which might have only been about the fourth best catch of the game, to come up with the interception of Russo.
“He has records in the Catholic league, most touchdown passes in a year, he’s the all time leading passer at Archbishop Wood. Throw all that stuff out, he’s a better kid than he is anything else,” Devlin said of Russo.
The interception came with 6:08 left in the game as Imhotep put the ball in the hands of its playmakers Waters and University of Arizona commit Tyliek Raynor as the two ran out the clock and Wood’s hope for a PIAA class AAA state championship three-peat.

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