GAITHERSBURG – On Friday night, Sherwood visited Gaithersburg in a game between two contenders with powerhouse running backs Van Mahoney and Gideon Ituka.
While the matchup lived up to the hype, the Trojans got the job done at home, thanks to an interception return for a touchdown by Michael Nwaogwugwu in the fourth quarter for the 35-21 victory over the Warriors.
“The boys played hard,” said Gaithersburg head coach Shawn Prather. “The team played hard. They executed the game plan, and they beat a good team tonight.”
The Wisconsin commit Ituka continued his dominant season with three touchdowns on the night.
“Tonight, it was really just personal,” said Ituka. “We all took it personal because they’re coming to our house, saying they’re going to whoop us, but that’s not it. We showed them what it was really about, about G-Burg football.”
Meanwhile, Nwaogwugwu stalled Sherwood’s offense with three interceptions, including the pick-six that put the Trojans ahead late.
“We felt disrespected,” said Nwaogwugwu. “We came out here and played well, and it looked good for us. We’re going to keep working.”
Sherwood (3-2) scored first as Brendan Hayer connected with Bryce Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
Gaithersburg (4-1) responded early in the second quarter with an Ituka 10-yard touchdown run but missed the extra point. The Warriors extended their lead by eight points after a 28-yard touchdown pass from Hayer to Alex Lacey.
But the Trojans came through late in the half as Sean Abdulla found Osman Fanny in the end zone for the 28-yard touchdown. Ituka converted the 2-point conversion to tie the game before halftime.
Gaithersburg opened the second half with a 75-yard offensive drive that resulted in Ituka’s second touchdown from eight yards out, making it 21-14.
“We have something grown,” said Ituka. “We have something great. With Coach Prather behind us and the rest of our coaching staff, they have something to start for us, but we’re just here to execute these plays and just keep pushing forward.”
However, Sherwood’s ensuing possession ended with Hayer connecting with Johnson again on a 41-yard score to tie the game.
After a fumble recovery, the Warriors attempted to take back the lead, but Nwaogwugwu intercepted Hayer’s pass to the end zone with one hand.
Early in the fourth, Nwaogwugwu once again picked off Hayer, but this time, he returned the interception 65 yards for the score to give the Trojans a 7-point lead.
“He’s a ball hawk,” said Prather. “He picks off the ball, he plays the ball, he works hard. That’s good for him.”
Sherwood had a chance to tie it later in regulation, but the offense was unsuccessful on a fourth-down attempt in the red zone.
“This was the one week where I would say that effort was not our strong suit,” said Warriors head coach Andrew Fields. “Gaithersburg played extremely well, and they fought hard. They looked hungry.”
Gaithersburg sealed the win with less than two minutes remaining when Ituka raced past defenders for a 35-yard score, his third touchdown of the game.