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Eddie Ma shakes off rough start to lead Northwood football past Woodbridge

IRVINE — Aside from it being a season-opening contest between intercity rivals, the most compelling storyline of the football game between Northwood and Woodbridge on Saturday centered around Timberwolves quarterback Eddie Ma.

The 6-foot-3 senior transferred to Northwood this season after being a first-team all-league selection last season at Woodbridge.

After a difficult first half that included three interceptions, Ma found his rhythm in the second half and wound up completing 15 of 24 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns as the Timberwolves defeated the Warriors 33-7.

Ma also rushed for a 5-yard touchdown.

Joseph Harper had touchdown catches of 3, 28 and 54...

Joseph Harper had touchdown catches of 3, 28 and 54 yards in Northwood’s 33-7 victory over Woodbridge on Saturday, Aug. 19. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

Northwood quarterback Eddie Ma completed 15 of 24 passes for...

Northwood quarterback Eddie Ma completed 15 of 24 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the Timberwolves’ 33-7 victory over Woodbridge on Saturday, Aug. 19. Ma transfered to Northwood after playing for Woodbridge. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

Quarterback Eddie Ma chats with his former Woodbridge teammates after...

Quarterback Eddie Ma chats with his former Woodbridge teammates after he led Northwood to a 33-7 victory against his former team Saturday, Aug. 19. (Photo by Lou Ponsi)

“I’d say probably facing my old team,” Ma said was most likely the reason for his slow start. “I take that responsibility. It was a lot of chit-chat going on and I felt like the pressure was kind of getting to my head. But I really feel like our O-line stepped up and I’m really proud of the O-line for the second-half adjustment that we made.”

Joseph Harper was on the receiving end of all three touchdown passes, which were for 3, 28 and 59 yards.

Harper finished with six receptions for 141 yards.

When the Timberwolves (1-0) and Warriors (0-1) lined up to shake hands after the game, Ma hugged nearly every one of his former teammates.

“It was good feelings really because it’s nice to get the win right,” Ma said, “but when you get to hug them and you remember the three years you spent with them. So it’s mixed feelings … bittersweet feelings.”

Neither team performed exceptionally well in the first half.

The Warriors’ first-half possessions ended with a blocked punt, a sack in the end zone for a safety, a punt, a touchdown, a punt, a missed field goal and then turnovers on downs on two consecutive series.

The Warriors’ first-half highlight was Tatum Ramos’ 74-yard touchdown run.

Northwood’s first-half drives culminated with an interception, a touchdown, a punt, a fumble for a turnover, interception, interception and a touchdown.

The Timberwolves’ first-half scores came on Ma’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Harper and then the quarterback’s 5-yard scoring run, which gave Northwood a 16-7 lead.

Northwood then shut the Warriors out in the second half.

Woodbridge’s Mikey Rubino had two first-half interceptions.

Coming into the season having won back-to-back CIF Southern Section titles, the Timberwolves have a target on their backs, Harper said.

“There was a lot going into this game,” Harper said. “The transfer from Woodbridge and this was the first game without Adam (Harper), our all-out leader the past two years. We started off a little slow, had opportunities and just missed them.”

While Adam Harper, Joseph’s older brother, graduated, his younger brother, Jacob, is a freshman and saw action on the offensive and defensive lines in the victory.

“He’s never played tackle football before,” Joseph said. “He’s bigger than both me and Adam.”

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