by Zach Long
The No. 3 seed L.C. Bird traveled to No. 2 seed Hermitage Friday night for a second round showdown in the 5A South playoffs.
The Skyhawks emerged victorious, winning 27-24.
Hermitage seemed to hold a mental edge towards the end of the first half. Up 17-14, quarterback James Carney had already thrown two touchdowns to Nasir Hines. The junior backup QB held his own in his first start, with signal-caller Woody Winborn sidelined by injury. The
Hermitage defense forced three straight punts as well, and L.C. Bird was struggling on offense.
That would all change in the second half.
Right out of the locker room, senior running back Shedrick McCall broke free and scored for the third time of the night on a 38-yard run.
Then, after numerous possessions coming up empty-handed, McCall would ramble off another electric run for his fourth touchdown of the game. This would put the Skyhawks up by 10 and seals the deal. McCall finished with a spectacular 277 yards on 33 carries and 4 scores.
McCall was able to steamroll the Hermitage defensive line, and as the battle raged, he was continuously able to plow through defenders.
“The game is 90 percent mental,” the hard-nosed back explained. “My O-line, they blocked good, they executed well, and I got to the second level, and I just did what I had to do.”
Even with a late score from Hermitage with 1:31 left by another connection between Carney and Hines – L.C. Bird withstood the pressure and recovered a Hermitage onside kick to capture the win.
For Hermitage, a 10-game winning streak comes to an end along with the season. L.C. Bird will face off against No. 1 seed Highland Springs on the road Saturday at 1p.m.
Colonial Forge 42
Thomas Dale 21
by Josh Mathews
The Knights came out hot on a surprisingly warm Friday evening in November.
They built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on the strength of their defense is what carried them at times this season but fell 42-21 to Colonial Forge in Stafford.
“They had one of the better front sixes we’d seen,” Thomas Dale coach Kevin Tucker said. “We wanted to spread the ball around and have some of our athletes make plays for us. We had a little bit of an off night passing the ball.”
Thomas Dale came out and made plays on defense. A pass tipped by Dusan Stjepanovic was intercepted by Devonte Chandler and returned to the red zone. A few plays later, Matt Lawton hit Gynai James to go up 7-0. On the ensuing kick-off, Colonial Forge fumbled and Emilio Johnson returned it for a score on special teams. Austin Feeser’s extra point made it 14-0.
Colonial Forge’s defense stymied the run all night, forcing Thomas Dale to pass on a large percentage of their offensive plays. The Knights were held to minus 10 rushing yards on the evening. The Eagles scored 42 straight points before a Lawton pass to Elijah Smith with less than a minute to play.
“We have played really well on defense through the year,” said Colonial Forge coach Bill Brown, a VHSL Hall of Fame. “We had to defend Ricky Slade, one of the best running backs in the nation, and held him to 70 something yards. When they couldn’t run, we moved back into pass coverage.”
That adjustment made it difficult for Lawton, who had to be nearly perfect on some throws into heavy coverage. When he wasn’t, the Eagles capitalized. The senior finished the game 26 for 40 passing with 259 yards and two touchdowns, but threw five interceptions.
“For two years we’ve had a great quarterback as a starter,” said Tucker. “He had a little bit of an off night, but I’d still go to battle with him over anyone I’ve had.”
The Knights finished the regular season 9-3. Colonial Forge advances to face Manchester this Saturday at 1p.m. in the 6A state quarterfinals.