Deerfield’s Matthew Fox, who finished with four of his team’s six sacks, takes down Evan Williams during Friday’s region duel. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Crazy... Insane...On fire...
Those are just some of the things the kids at Deerfield-Windsor call Matthew Fox, who says he doesn’t mind.
Why should he? That’s the way he plays the game.
“He is insane. He is crazy,’’ said Herald Dynamite Dozen tailback Kh’Ron McClain.
Two-way lineman Patrick Forrestal put it this way: “He’s incredible. His instincts to get to the ball are just crazy.’’
Yep, crazy like a Fox.
Just ask Westfield’s Hornets, who saw more of Fox than they wanted to in Friday’s classic showdown against DWS, a game between GISA’s two top-ranked Class AAA teams in the state.
Deerfield made sure it stayed No. 1 with a 28-7 win that wasn’t that close, thanks to a swarming Fox-led defense and McClain, who scored all four touchdowns.
The Knights not only stopped Westfield quarterback Evan Williams, who had led Westfield to a 6-0 record and an offense that had scored 38 points in three of its last four games, but they sacked him six times.
He finished the game Friday night with negative-31 yards rushing.
Fox had four of those sacks worth 40 yards.
“That might be a school record,’’ DWS coach Allen Lowe said. “It feels like he had more.’’
Fox was feeling it before the showdown.
“He was pumped up before the game,’’ Forrestal said. “He was giving us a pep talk. He was shouting and saying, ‘We’re going to shut them down!’ ”
They did. It was 28-0 before Westfield found the end zone with 1:44 left in the third quarter when Williams scored on a 1-yard run.
“You could tell (Fox) was going to have a big game before the game,’’ Forrestal said. “Somebody was saying, ‘Fox is on tonight.’ ”
Fox said everybody was on.
“We came out with a lot of intensity,’’ said Fox, a junior, who will probably break Deerfield’s career sack record before he graduates; he has more than 20 right now. “We just came out ready to play. We executed and played good defense. The whole line played great.’’
Deerfield’s defense dominated, especially in the first half when the Knights held Westfield to one first down — a 25-yard pass from Williams to Reid Hudson. The Hornets went to halftime with a total of just 26 yards.
“We were backed up in the first half,’’ Westfield coach Ronnie Jones said. “The difference was probably up front. We played well at times defensively, but we couldn’t get anything going offensively. It was probably because of the play up front. They were just a better team than we were (Friday night).’’
McClain put on a show. He scored on a 3-yard run and a 5-yard run in the first half, and he went to halftime with 109 yards. He then picked up a fumble on the first is series of the second half and ran it back for a 38-yard TD. He also scored on a 10-yard run with 8:38 left in the third to lift Deerfield to a 28-0 lead and finished the game with 139 yards on 21 carries.
McClain also had an interception and a sack worth 13 yards. It seemed everybody had Williams’ number. Even DWS quarterback Dallas Margeson, who also plays safety, had a sack for the Knights.
It was the first sacks of the year from McClain and Margeson, who scrambled for 46 yards on seven carries and made an incredible block to spring KE’Marvin Pitts for a 38-yard gain that set up McClain’s final touchdown of the night.
“That block,’’ Margeson began, “that was the play I’ll remember.’’
When he made the critical downfield block, wiping a defender out, someone on the sideline said, “You won’t see a quarterback make a better block.’’
It was that kind of night for Deerfield, which fumbled the ball away twice, suffered an interception on a tipped pass, lost an onside kick in the second half — and still controlled the game.
Lowe said his defense “was outstanding,’’ and that it might have been Deerfield’s best first half of the season. But he wasn’t happy about the turnovers in the second half.
He was elated, however, with the result, because DWS is now 7-1, but more importantly 3-0 in the region race. And if the Knights win their final three games, they can win the region title and secure home-field throughout the playoffs — including the state title game.
That’s what the win Friday meant. The Knights now have to turn around and play Pinewood, which is unbeaten in the region after upsetting Southland Friday, in another showdown.
Had Westfield won, the Hornets would have owned the region. Now it’s up to Deerfield.
“We know we have to win, and we know it’s all up to us,’’ Lowe said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good position.’’
Williams, who completed 7 of 19 passes for 94 yards, drove Westfield to the 3 in the closing minutes of the game, but Forrestal threw the Hornets for a 3-yard loss, and on third-and-goal from the 8, Fox sacked Williams at the 13 to all but end the threat. An incompletion on the next play ended the drive and the night for Westfield.
“Yeah ... that one felt good,’’ Fox said. “Because it was in the red zone. It felt great, really great.’’
Nothing crazy about that.