Two weeks ago, the Winston Churchill Bulldogs and Richard Montgomery Rockets combined for 16 touchdowns in a 64-50 final, with the Bulldogs on top.
In a postseason rematch on Nov. 2, the Bulldogs adopted a new game plan to prevent Rockets senior quarterback Anthony Dixon Jr. from picking them apart for the second time. Starting fast on defense and capitalizing on big defensive plays rallied the Bulldogs to a 41-12 victory.
“I made the mistake of turning that game two weeks ago into a touch football game,” head coach and defensive coordinator Joe Rydzewski said. “[I have] so much respect for anthony dixon and the way he plays the quarterback position. Without a doubt, he’s the best quarterback I’ve seen since I’ve been here. The kid is so good. But the most important thing was that we knew we were going to apply pressure. We didn’t apply any pressure last time and that killed us.”
While the defense adjusted its performance, the Bulldogs’ offense remained the same, with senior running back David Avitt dominating the Rockets’ defense. His first carry of the game went 55 yards for the opening touchdown.
“When I got that ball and saw the hole, I was like, ‘yeah, we’re going to win this game,'” Avith said. “The second I got that ball. The line really did work. I basically ran untouched.”
Avith would go on to rush for 132 more yards and three touchdowns, marking the second time this season he had four rushing touchdowns against Richard Montgomery.
“When it starts getting colder and the ground gets a little wet, [Avit] it’s getting better,” Rydzewski said. “I’m excited about it.”
After Avith’s touchdown, the Bulldogs’ defense shut down the Rockets’ offense, forcing two incompletions. A fake pass on fourth down fell incomplete and led Avith to score his second touchdown. On the Rockets’ second possession, the pressure got the better of Dixon as Bulldogs senior linebacker Chris Paul broke through the Rockets’ offensive line and sacked Dixon, where junior linebacker Drew Menick recovered the fumble.
“I saw the hole open [and] went through it,” Paul said. “I did not want [Dixon] to pass me so I broke down a bit. After seeing that he didn’t throw it, I got in his face. [I] I felt the ball in my hand and snatched it away.
Two plays later, junior quarterback Vasi Halas followed his blockers for a sneak quarterback touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 20-0 with 7:03 left in the first quarter.
“We knew if we had a chance to score early, we had to take it,” Avith said of the 20-0 lead early on. “And putting points on them early is really what destabilizes them. I don’t think they even wanted to play in the second quarter.”
The high lead put the Rockets on the back foot and allowed the Bulldogs to pin their ears back and put more pressure on Dixon.
“It was pretty complete,” Paul said. “We knew what the job was and we got it done.”
By then the lead was too much and the Bulldogs marched into halftime up 34-6. Midway through the third, Avith found the end zone for the fourth time.
Rydzewski said the Bulldogs are playing their best football as they head into the second round of the playoffs.
“I feel like we saw it in the second half of Walter Johnson and I told the guys, you can almost see him change. Our motto going into “WJ” was we’re playing well, but we’ve got to start playing well for each other. And I don’t know if I saw it. And then I saw it in the second half of ‘WJ’ and it carried over tonight. And so hopefully we will continue to do that and that will be the focus.”
Next up for Winston Churchill is a home game against the Gaithersburg Trojans at 6:30pm on November 10th.
If MoCo360 keeps you informed, connected and inspired, circle up and join our community by becoming a member today. Your membership supports our community journalism and unlocks special benefits.