By Josh Mathews & Zach Long
Thomas Dale 22, Varina 13
The Knights’ “Dark Zone” defense returned against Varina this past week as Thomas Dale didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in 22-13 victory over the Blue Devils.
Thomas Dale kicker Austin Feeser booted a 37-yard field goal to give the Knights a 16-13 lead with 2:53 to play, and defensive end Shundarius Carter took the ball out of Varina quarterback Brion Logan’s hands with less than a minute to go in the red zone and returned it 79 yards for a score, putting an exclamation point on the victory.
It was Varina that struck first in the contest when the Blue Devils’ Travon Moore picked off a Gabe McCollin pass and returned it for a score. Then, Max Oxendine scored a Knights touchdown for the apparent answer but a missed extra point allowed the Blue Devils to maintain a 7-6 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Varina responded with a 90-yard return for a score by Stephen Richardson to make it 13-6, where it remained at the half. Oxendine tied it 13-13 with 7:37 left in the third quarter with his second touchdown of the day before Feeser’s field goal gave the home team the lead it would never relinquish.
Carter has been spectacular for Thomas Dale. Against Cosby, he tallied 16 tackles, three sacks and returned a fumble for a score. Against Varina, he had 11 tackles, three sacks, five tackles for losses, and a fumble return touchdown. At 6 feet and 180 pounds, he’s undersized for the line but uses his speed to get the quarterback, much like Knights standout Justin Amagoh, who graduated in 2015.
“Coming into the season, he wanted to wear No. 7, and Coach told him he had to put in work to wear No. 7,” said Oxendine. “He was the first one in the weight room and the last one to leave, and now he’s one of the leaders of the team.”
John Pierce saw his first varsity action and was 4-for-9 passing for 65 yards and an interception.
After a bye week, Thomas Dale will entertain Colonial Heights Sept. 23. Quarterback Matt Lawton, who was injured in the preseason is expected to return.
L.C. Bird 62, Midlothian 0
Another game, another dominant defensive performance for L.C. Bird. The Skyhawks dispatched Midlothian 62-0.
Bird running backs Shedrick McCall and Corbin Donaldson both had explosive days toting the ball. McCall, an ODU commit, rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns, while Corbin Donaldson needed two carries to tally 133 yards and two scores. Wideout Johquin “Pinky” Wiley hauled in a 66-yard reception for a touchdown from quarterback Marcus Banks. Banks added a second touchdown to Devonte Wright before halftime.
In the fourth quarter, the ground game added two touchdowns, Jaden Payote going 32 yards and Robert Johnson going 38 yards.
The Skyhawks improved to 3-0, and over the team’s first three games, they have allowed a mere seven points, or an average of 2.3 points per game.
This Friday, L.C. Bird faces its biggest challenge on the Dominion District schedule as it will welcome Manchester (2-0). Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Matoaca 50, Clover Hill 14
Sometimes it takes a while for a fire to get going. After losing to Manchester and Cosby to start the season, Matoaca found its rhythm this week, and made the appropriate plays in a 50-14 win over Clover Hill.
Both the defense and offense contributed to the win for the Warriors. But coach DL Johnson was especially pleased with the numerous turnovers and stops the defense created.
“The defense continues to get better each week. I think we found the right personnel for the defense,” he said.
The Warriors special teams unit made an immense impact, putting up 14 points in the first three minutes of play. Cade Driskill was able to block two consecutive punts, with Elijah Dennis-Thomas and Melvin Dickson bringing the ball all the way back for the score. From then on, Matoaca was able to play with a nice cushion for the rest of the game. The Warriors capped off the first half with an impressive 30-second drive that ended in a score, going into the locker room with a 14-point lead.
To start the second half, quarterback Justin Ford was able to connect with Russell Cohen for the second time of the night, extending the Warriors’ lead. Cohen finished with 72 yards on six receptions with two touchdowns. Ford went 15 for 29, with 157 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Johnson said that Terrence Whitfield attracted a lot of the defense’s attention.
Whitfield, a talented 6-4, 170-pound receiver, has a tall physical frame that can cause havoc in one-on-one situations. With the Clover Hill defense keyed in on Whitfield often, other receivers like Cohen and Jarrod Mosby could step up and make plays.
In the fourth quarter, Matoaca got to work on the ground game. Jeremiah Carter would score twice, once on an exceptional 59-yard run. Carter finished with 169 yards on the ground. Tre’von Stewart recorded an interception in the end zone with six minutes left in the game. That would add to his total on the night with three picks and one forced fumble. Coach Johnson called Stewart’s performance a “monster game” and was very happy with the corner’s play.
Matoaca now holds a 1-2 record going into a bye week. The Warriors will travel to Prince George in two weeks to take on the 1-1 Royals. Clover Hill falls to 0-2, and will look towards a tough opponent in Monacan (3-0), which is coming off a stout win over Cosby.